Bihar: Assembly elections, 2015
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
The Times of India, Nov 09 2015
Landslide may spur more `secular' pacts
The Bihar election was billed as a grudge match between alliesturned-foes, as a virtual referendum on PM Modi's appeal, and as a fight between `secular' and `communal' forces. It also became about who was `Bihari' and `bahari' and a row over the DNA of the people of India's third most populous state. Most called it “too close to call“, exit polls were divided. There was nothing close about the verdict. Nitish Kumar on Sunday led the `secular' Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance to a landslide win over BJP-led NDA, avenging the humiliation Modi had inflicted on him in the Lok Sabha polls. This is the saffron alliance's second straight defeat -both crushing, but this one a lot more significant -after Delhi in February . MGB's stunning victory, which will whet the anti-BJP opposition's appetite for con frontation, represents a vote of confidence in Nitish's governance during his dec ade-long stint as chief min ister and could spur efforts to form Bihar-type `secular coalitions in other states. The win on the eve of Di wali also marked a spectacu lar comeback for Lalu Prasad who had been in the politica doldrums after suffering de cisive defeats in consecutive state and central polls. After finishing third with a paltry 22 seats in the last elections he has emerged as the single largest player in the 243-strong House with a tally of 80. While Nitish, who like Lalu is also an OBC (Other Back ward Caste; he's a Kurmi) projected development with social justice, the flamboyan Yadav chieftain unabashedly turned it into a backward vs forward caste struggle. The win for Nitish, who now has a strong claim to be projected as the `secular' PM candidate in 2019, may signa the beginning of the cam paign for the next Lok Sabha polls, besides making things tougher for the government in Parliament. Lalu and Nitish as well as Rahul Gandhi, whose Congress rode on the coattails of the two Mandal warriors to return an astonishing high tally of 27 -the best since 1995 when it won 29 -all talked of a soon-to-be launched cam paign against the Centre. Gulal leaves BJP workers red-faced Early in the morning, BJP seemed to be leading, prompting bursting of crackers at its Patna HQ, even as workers applied colour on each other's faces. On TV, experts spoke of how Nitish had lost touch with voters. All that changed within a couple of hours, as celebrations gave way to disbelief and gloom.Many workers were seen hastily scrubbing colour off their faces. BJP single-largest party by voteshare BJP emerged as the single largest party in Bihar in terms of voteshare, getting almost 25% of the vote. However, this was largely due to the fact that it contested 157 seats, 56 more than Lalu Prasad's RJD, which finished as the secondlargest party with 18.6%. JD(U) was the only other party with voteshare in double digits, registering 16.6%.Independents got 9.4% votes. Worst show by BJP in state in 10 years With 53 seats this time around, BJP's seat share is its lowest in the last three Bihar assemblies.Ironically, JD(U)'s 71 seats are also its worst show since the OctoberNovember elections in 2005. RJD's 80 seats is its best performance since the state was divided in 2000. Cong put up its best show since 1995. Nitish gets 5th innings as CM Nitish Kumar assumed the office of Bi har CM for a record fifth time. He is also the second longest serving CM of the state after Congress's Sri Krishna Sinha (1947-61). Nitish was CM for 8 days in 2000 and won two terms in 2005 and 2010. In May 2014, he in stalled Jitan Ram Manjhi but returned to the post in February this year. Jagannath Misra (Congress) and Bhola Prasad Shastri (Cong O & Cong) have each held the post thrice. P 19 2|3rds majority for second straight time The alliance fell just short of a 34ths majority but it's still the second straight election in which Bihar voters have handed a 23rds majority. In 2010, JD(U) BJP bagged 206 of 243 seats. Ex cept for Cong in 1951 and 1957 and Janata Party (1977), nobody else got a near-23rds majority.
WHAT WORKED FOR MAHAGATHBANDHAN
The RJD-JD(U) pact ensured a core 34% vote ¬ Muslims, Yadavs and Kurmis ¬ giving Grand Alliance a potential advantage in many of Bihar's 243 seats. Cong eliminated split in anti-BJP vote, denying BJP advantage of the 2014 LS three-way contest Lalu's recourse to caste war brought about a backward-forward polarisation. BJP bid to pull in EBCs through alliances failed. It was looking at a 15% upper caste vote but results indicate that even this calculation may have been off the mark Projection of Nitish Kumar as CM cashed in on his goodwill and reassured those chary of Lalu raj Lalu's `sacrifice' in agreeing to Nitish's projection as CM and parity in seat-sharing ¬ a big concession given their bitter feud in the past.Lalu was able to transfer his vote base to JD(U) and Congress Lalu and Nitish jumped on Mohan Bhagwat's statement favouring a review of quotas to allege that BJP was conspiring to abolish caste-based reservation ¬ a damning charge as backwards and Dalits account for almost 70% of Bihar's population The Nitish campaign, overseen by Prashant Kishor, who worked for BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, blended innovative use of bicycles with social media Muslims were persuaded to keep low profile to reduce `counter-polarisation' in BJP's favour Support from `secular' politicians¬ from Kejriwal to Mamata ¬ and the uprising against intolerance attracted many neutrals. BJP's `divisive, communal' campaign around cow slaughter and Pakistan appears to have backfired Modi's jibe about Nitish's DNA being prone to duplicity and betrayal was a misfire and seen as an affront to Biharis
2015: The NDA/ BJP campaign
The Times of India, Nov 05 2015
With 26 rallies across five phases, PM led NDA campaign from front
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed 26 rallies in Bihar as part of BJP's all-out effort to win the five-phase state polls that wrap up. The Prime Minister was BJP-led NDA's star campaigner as the coalition went into the polls without a chief ministerial face -the PM pitched as the face of development instead.
PM Modi was pitted against JD(U) leader and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who led the grand coalition of JD(U), RJD and Congress.
BJP chief Amit Shah left nothing to chance and camped in the state for almost the whole of October, overseeing electoral preparations. He addressed 76 rallies in the state besides holding meetings of district leaders to ensure no small detail was overlooked.
A galaxy of central ministers, including foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, finance minister Arun Jaitley, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who hails from the state, flew in to address rallies. But it was home minister Rajnath Singh who clocked the most miles, addressing over 50 rallies over the five phases.
In all, the NDA held between 28 and 32 rallies every day to win over voters in the state where BJP has never been the dominant coalition partner and, hence, never had a chief minister of its own.
BJP was part of the ruling coalition in the Nitish Kumar government for eight years before the chief minister broke away.
Owaisi and Mulayam could not dent the secular vote
The Times of India, Nov 09 2015
Subodh Ghildiyal Spoilers Owaisi, Mulayam get a taste of Bahari sentiment
Mulayam Singh Yadav and Asaduddin Owaisi came out of the Bihar battle with bruised egos and battered credibility, failing to make any impact on the outcome while getting boxed as having done the BJP's bidding, albeit unsuccessfully. The Yadav chieftain entered the polls as part of a `third front', breaking away from his “secular Samajwadis“ Nitish and Lalu.
He justified his decision saying that the Maha Gatbandhan had slighted him. But with virtually no pres ence in Bihar, Mulayam's bid to project himself as a genuh ine player failed to convince i anyone while reinforcing e the perception of him being a saffron proxy . His commo ent that Bihar was in the grip of a BJP wave only unders scored this view.
If it was baffling that Mu layam should divorce part ners and relatives -he being a father-in-law to Lalu's youngy est daughter -the Bihar out come is set to intensify the murmurs that the Centre has n a strong `influence' over him.
The SP chief 's decision to . help the government break the deadlock in Parliament during the monsoon session and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's high praise for him raised many an eyebrow.
The general verdict is that CBI investigations into key scandals of SP-ruled Uttar Pradesh are the reason behind SP's bonhomie with BJP. After falling flat in Bihar, Mulayam is set to come under pressure to bond with the opposition in challenging the Centre.
The embarrassment for Hyderabad-based Owaisi is as acute. Known as a rabblerouser heading the Muslim outfit AIMIM, his decision to contest Bihar polls triggered a backlash from the “secular“ camp that he was a “BJP agent“ who was out to divide the Muslim vote. It was also said that his rabble-rousing speeches would result in religious polarization by neutralizing caste mobilization which the Nitish-Lalu alliance was banking on.
The charge stuck because a minority split was BJP's best bet to whittle down the advantage that the rival alliance enjoyed in the crucial Seemanchal region. However, Owaisi drew a blank, showing no traction with the aware Bihari voter.
Manjhi, Paswan, Kushwaha fared badly
The Times of India, Nov 09 2015
Fringe cut: Manjhi, Paswan disappear into the margins BJP was completely let down by three of its partners who together won only five out of the 83 seats they contested in Bihar. Even former CM and leader of the newly formed Hindustani Awaam Morcha (HAM), Jitan Ram Manjhi, lost one of two seats he contested, a telling proof of how BJP overestimated him and offered his party 20 seats in pre-poll arrangements.
Similarly , Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP won only two out of 40 seats while another Union minister Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) won two out of 23 seats it contested. In contrast, BJP -the biggest partner of the alli ance -won 53 out of 160 seats.
It may be recalled that both Paswan and Manjhi had openly expressed their unhappiness over the seat sharing. The two wanted more seats to contest claiming their so-called hold over the Scheduled Caste (SC) voters.
Three relatives of Paswan Pashupati Paras, Prince Raj and Sarita Paswan --lost their election from Alauli, Kalyanpur and Sonbarsha respectively. Similarly, Kuswaha's relative Sant Singh Kuswaha was defeated in Narkatia.
Left Front fares badly
The Times of India, Nov 09 2015
Left Front flops, biggies draw a blank
In their quest for a separate identity , three left parties -CPI, CPM, CPI (ML) -came together only to find that the gamble failed to make a splash. CPI (ML), strongest of the three in Bihar, has won two seats while in the third a narrow margin of victory resulted in Lok Janshakti Party demanding recounting. Till last reports, CPI (ML)'s Mehboob Alam was winning in Balrampur in Katihar and Satyadev Ram was winning in Darauli.In Tarari, after CPI (ML) candidate Sudama Prasad was declared a winner with a margin of 129 votes, LJP demanded retotalling. CPI and CPM have drawn blank. Bachchwara in Begusarai held by CPI has gone to Congress. CPI has come second in Bakhri while CPM, weakest of the three Left parties, came third in Manjhi.
2015: Caste composition of the Bihar Legislative Assembly
One in every four members in the new Bihar assembly will be a Yadav, the caste of RJD boss Lalu Prasad, who played a stellar role in the Mahagathbandhan's magnificent victory in the just-concluded election. The number of Yadav legislators is 61 in the 243-member House - 42 of them are from RJD that ruled Bihar for 15 years from 1990 to 2005. Other parties, too, have Yadav members - 11 from JD (U), two from Congress and six from BJP. The new House will also have 10 Brahmins. Altogether 38 Scheduled Caste members represent various parties in the House. Of them, 13 are from RJD, 10 from JD(U), five from Congress, nine from NDA and one from CPI(ML-Liberation). With 24 members, Muslims constitute the third largest bloc. Of them, 12 are from RJD, five from JD(U), six from Congress, one from CPI(ML-Liberation). There's no Muslim member from NDA that fielded 10 candidates from the community. Of them, BJP had two nominees, HAM(S) four, LJP three and RLSP one. There will be 19 Rajputs, 19 Koeri , 17 Bhumihars, 16 Kurmis, 16 Vaishyas and three Kayasthas in the assembly. Congress fielded three Yadavs, of them two won. On the other hand, BJP fielded 23 Yadav candidates, only six of them won. The party-wise breakup of Rajput members: RJD (2), JD-U (6), Congress (3), BJP (8). No Rajput candidate from LJP, RLSP and HAM-S could win the election. JD(U) has the highest number of Koeris (11) followed by RJD (4), BJP (3) and RLSP (1). Congress had fielded a total number of 41 candidates. Of them, 27 won the elections - Muslims (6), Scheduled Castes (5), Brahmins (4), Bhumihars (4), Rajputs (3), Yadavs (2), Kurmis (1), Kayastha (1) and STs (1). Ram Vilas Paswan fielded 11 SC candidates, including four from his family, none of them won.
2015: Muslims in the Bihar Legislative Assembly
22 MUSLIM MLAS Almost 17% of Bihar is Muslim but the community has gone under-represented in the Patna assembly for years. In 2015, the 22 Muslim MLAs add up to only 9% of the legislators in the new House