Patna: Brand Nitish Kumar could not sway the Bihar electorate but the ‘Modi hai to Mumkin hai’ magic worked in the assembly elections.
Defying all exit poll results, the BJP-JDU alliance was leading (or has won) in 124 seats and the RJD-Congress combine in 111. NDA has already crossed the threshold of 122, required for a simple majority, and now only needs to hold onto the lead.
The opposition, led by Tejashwi Yadav's RJD, claimed it has won 119 seats but the JDU-BJP government had exerted pressure on election officials to delay the results and rework them in their favour.
The claims notwithstanding, the narrow margins could still swing the final results either way with 50 seats still undeclared.
In that case, ‘others’ – the Left parties, which have done exceedingly well and AIMIM – will come into play. Celebrations had almost ensued in Patna and preparations were on at the party headquarters in New Delhi. But with the Opposition narrowing the gap in Bihar, the party backed off and Union minister Amit Shah and PM Modi skipped the function.
It was only late at night that Modi and Shah tweeted to thank the people of Bihar for "backing the NDA". The Prime Minister said the NDA would "work for the balanced development of every person, every region" of the state.
The BJP was the largest party at one point of time during the counting -- in a state where it has always played second fiddle to Nitish Kumar’s JDU. However, the alliance led by Tejashwi Yadav turned the contest into dead heat, emerging as the largest party after 10 hours of counting. Among those to congratulate him for putting up a gritty fight was NCP leader Sharad Pawar.
What stood out was PM Modi’s uncanny ability to swing a state Assembly election – that too in the face of the severe economic downturn, a raging pandemic and a humanitarian crisis posed by mass migration. The results in the by-elections held in a dozen other states, which were also out on Monday, reinforced the PM’s ‘invincibility’ factor.
CONGRESS DENTS TEJASHWI CHANCES: The party had insisted on contesting 70 seats, the second largest electoral pie after the RJD’s 144, but its recurring flop show, worse than that in 2015, may cost Tejashwi his chief ministership. The party has squandered 19 seats, a dismal record even by Congress standard. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi had vigorously campaigned in the state, but it is apparent the voters were not enamoured by his style of campaigning. In fact, every party has a better strike rate than the Congress.
The AIMIM, for the first time, won five seats in Seemanchal area, cutting into the traditional vote bank of the RJD and the Congress. "In politics, you learn from your mistakes. Our Bihar chief personally met each and every leader. No one was ready to touch us. Big parties treated me like an untouchable...'' explained Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, putting his victory in perspective.
The AIMIM will decide later which party it will support, Owaisi told NDTV.
LEFT SURPASSES ITSELF: For the first time since 1977, Left parties have performed exceedingly well, with both CPI (ML) and CPM notching 16 constituencies. It could play an important role -- if need be -- in swinging a 'hung' house in Nitish's favour.
Surprisingly, even in the Yadav belt of Madhepura and Saharasa, RJD could not sway the voters and here, too, the JDU-BJP combine prevailed. Seemingly, the ‘Jungle Ka Yuvraj’ campaign neutralised the one million job promise.