In a bitterly-fought five-phased election that saw political campaigning hit a new low, Mahagatbandhan clobbers BJP and its allies to claim the throne
Patna: In a verdict that is bound to have a national impact, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (JD-U) and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav yesterday trounced the BJP to win the bitterly fought Assembly polls and deliver a major blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who led the BJP’s challenge.
In contrast to what most exit polls had predicted — a hung House — the Grand Alliance of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress bagged a whopping 178 of the 243 seats, leaving the BJP and its allies with just 59 seats. Compared to the number of assembly segments it won in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BJP lost every second seat.
Moreover, the much-maligned Lalu Prasad’s RJD ended up as the single largest party with 80 seats, followed closely by Nitish Kumar’s JD-U with 71 seats. The Congress bagged 27 seats.
Party Time: JD (U) supporters dance as they celebrate the Grand Alliance's victory in the Bihar Assembly elections at the party office in Patna yesterday. Pic/PTI
Unfortunately, for the BJP, its three allies — the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) — collectively bagged just six seats.
“This is a very big victory. We accept it with humility,” Nitish Kumar said in his first comments. “From the national perspective, the result is significant.”
Lalu Prasad Yadav, whom the BJP targeted viciously during the campaign, was more emphatic. He called Modi ‘a RSS pracharak’ and vowed to mount a nationwide campaign against the BJP-led central government. He also made it clear that although his party had more seats than the JD-U, Nitish Kumar would be the chief minister.
A sombre Modi telephoned Nitish Kumar and congratulated him. So did a stream of opposition leaders from across the country, indicating that the ramifications of the Bihar outcome were already being felt at the national-level.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the BJP’s defeat was a ‘victory of tolerance, defeat of intolerance’. Delhi Chief Minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal hailed Nitish Kumar on ‘this historic victory’.
He also stated that the BJP-led coalition’s defeat was a referendum on Modi’s ‘work and working style’. He added, “The results prove that people do not approve of the politics of hatred.”
The Shiv Sena, BJP’s bittersweet ally in Maharashtra, said the BJP must accept that the defeat was Modi’s doing. Calling Nitish Kumar ‘a political hero’, it said the Bihar result ‘will be a turning point in the country’s political future’.
Conceding defeat, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said, “This is not an outcome we expected. This defeat calls for serious thinking.” Party vice-president Prabhat Jha said, “We failed to understand people’s mind. We will have to change our election strategy.”