|HOME | ELECTION | REPORT|
|October 8, 1999||
BJP, JD-U fly high in Bihar
Soroor Ahmed in Patna
The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal (United) are on a huge high -- and with good reason.
Forty of the 50 seats are in their combined kitty. Plus, the very real prospect that this obvious wave will have a positive impact on the four seats where polling is to be held on October 28. The end result, thus, would be a stunning 44 out of the 54 seats in a state where the combine least expected such results.
BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, immensely pleased with how things have gone, dubbed the verdict as a referendum against the Rabri Devi government. But it is the JD-U that is really celebrating what they call "unexpected success". While the BJP improved its tally from 20 to 22, the JD-U, which is the erstwhile Samata Party and JD together, jumped from 11 to 17.
The biggest talking point for the JD-U though is that it can claim sole credit for doing the unthinkable -- to wit, defeating Laloo Prasad Yadav in Madhepura. In that part of north Bihar, the BJP has no presence worth mentioning, and no big BJP leader had come down to campaign for Sharad Yadav.
Similarly, Nitish Kumar appears to have managed to snatch victory from the jaws of seeming defeat in Barh. All through Thursday, he was announced as trailing, at one time it was announced that he had lost. However, a later news bulletin indicated that he had in fact won, but that the result was not being officially declared yet, pending verification.
His rival, State Minister for Minor Irrigation Vijay Krishna, rushed to Laloo's residence to complain about foul play, but the latter reportedly expressed his helplessness.
The result is interesting. Because, though Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did address a meeting in Barh, the general feeling was that a section of the BJP workers were upset with Nitish Kumar and did not work for him in the constituency. Not only did Nitish overcome that hurdle, he has actually won with a slightly bigger margin than the 15,170 votes he managed last time.
JD-U candidates Devendra Prasad Yadav, Dinesh Chandra Yadav and Nawal Kishore Rai, from Jhanjharpur, Saharsa and Sitamarhi respectively, trounced formidable RJD candidates by large margins to make the rout complete.
The BJP snatched a few seats in North Bihar -- Kishanganj, Madhubani, Chapra, Motihari and Darbhanga -- but lost Araria to the RJD's Sukhdeo Paswan by a narrow margin of 2,100 votes. In Kishanganj, its lone Muslim candidate, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, gained a very significant victory when he defeated former Federal Minister Taslimuddin in a triangular contest by a margin of 7,326 votes. The presence of the Nationalist Congress candidate Maulana Asrar-ul-Haque, who jumped into the fray at the last moment, nailed Taslimuddin's hopes.
Kishenganj had returned journalist M J Akbar in 1989 and Syed Shahabuddin in 1991. Akbar bears the "secular" label, Shahbuddin is a champion, albeit self-professed, of Muslim hopes and aspirations -- so the fact that a BJP candidate won here is significant in that it indicates that the Muslim paranoia about the BJP is getting diluted.
Laloo Yadav, while congratulating his rival, claimed that the Congress-RJD combination secured five per cent more votes than last time, and said that the "unholy and unprincipled alliance against the forces of social justice and secularism as a factor was responsible for the defeat".
Initial figures do seem to corroborate the first half of that response. Overall, it would appear that the RJD vote percentage has not declined. Save in Araria and Seohar, all its candidates won by big margins.
On the other hand, the margin of victory for the BJP candidates has come down significantly in many seats. For instance, in Buxar it is less than 11,000; in Sasaram about 18,000; in Gaya 20,000; in Lohardagga 3,700; in Kishanganj 7,326; in Dhanbad just 14,000; in Giridih just 19,000; in Dumka 4,600 and in Khunti 26,000 votes.
However, its candidate Ram Tahal Chaudhary of Ranchi won by the highest margin, 232,000 votes, in Ranchi, while Federal Finance Minister Yashwant Singh won by over 175,000 votes.
Interestingly, while Sharad Yadav won comfortably over Laloo Yadav, other party stalwarts like Ram Vilas Paswan and George Fernandes found that their margins of victory had come down.
A footnote: the fate of the Bihar People's Party is clear now. Anand Mohan and his wife Lovely -- for obvious reasons, this outfit is also called the Bihar Pati-Patni Party -- both lost their seats and, with it, their political raison d'etre.
ELECTION 99 |
SINGLES | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | HOTEL RESERVATIONS | WORLD CUP 99
EDUCATION | PERSONAL HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | FEEDBACK