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'It is a victory for BJP, not for NDA'

By ARCHANA MASIH
November 11, 2020 17:12 IST
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'The BJP is in no hurry because they have already won the battle.'

IMAGE: Bharatiya Janata Party workers celebrate victory in the Bihar assembly election in Patna, November 11, 2020. Photograph: ANI Photo
 

"The BJP's gameplan would be to occupy the entire space once the JD-U becomes weaker."

"The same thing happened in Maharashtra where the BJP ate into the Shiv Sena's votes. The model of marginalising your partner over time has worked for the BJP in many states." Professor Prabhat Ghosh, director of the Patna-based Asian Development Research Institute, tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih.

What is your assessment of the Bihar verdict that turned out to be a real cliffhanger?

There was a negative feedback on the ruling state government, but not on the entire 15 years. The negative feedback for the last 5 years was the reason why JD-U seats have reduced greatly.

Logically, this negative feedback should have also affected the BJP, but it left the party unscathed thanks to the image of Narendra Modi.

It was a negative vote against the present government, but Narendra Modi's image acted as a saviour for BJP.

This helped the NDA get a slender majority.

Where did the RJD and Mahagatbandhan falter?

One of the principal issues raised by the NDA was recall of the 'jungle raj' of the previous RJD regime.

This proved effective because people do not know how Tejashwi would behave once in power. He is still fresh and untested.

Yet he has pulled out a good performance for the RJD under his stewardship. He ran a good and strong campaign.

Everyone knows he is here because of his father, but he never took Lalu's name throughout the campaign.

He suffered because of the negative image of jungle raj.

The Congress did very badly.

If the Congress had won 10 more seats, the alliance would have won. Fifty seats were lost because the Congress got more seats than were deserved.

The Left parties made some space this time.

The CPI-ML won 12/19 which is to their credit. Unlike the CPI and CPI-M, they do not have any organisation. They took the advantage of the RJD's appeal.

IMAGE: JD-U supporters celebrate victory in the Bihar election in Patna, November 11, 2020. Photograph: ANI Photo

How will Nitish Kumar's fourth term be, especially since his position has been depleted since than last time?

One of the reasons for the JD-U's poor performance was that the LJP contested against the JD-U with silent support from the BJP.

The BJP's gameplan would be to occupy the entire space once the JD-U becomes weaker. The BJP wanted to weaken the JD-U and Nitish Kumar.

The same thing happened in Maharashtra where the BJP ate into the Shiv Sena's votes. The model of marginalising your partner over time has worked for the BJP in many states.

How will Nitish Kumar 4.0 be as chief minister? Will he be a weaker CM?

I presume the BJP will not back away from its statement that no matter how many seats JD-U wins, Nitish will continue to be CM.

But I think in a few months, the BJP may have a rethink and a renewed political equation might emerge.

The BJP is in no hurry because they have already won the battle.

It is a victory for the BJP, not a victory for the NDA.

So there is a possibility of Nitish Kumar not serving his full term. With 43 MLAs his authority is depleted and his performance will be poorer.

Most exit polls have been proved wrong, do you think pollsters misread what people were thinking?

In a close contest opinion/exit polls are not a good indicator. Exit polls gave a marginal advantage for the RJD which finally vanished and became an advantage for the BJP.

It was a cliffhanger. I don't think exit polls were entirely wrong. The prediction was 120 for Mahagatbandhan and they got 110.

IMAGE: RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav addresses a gathering in Munger district. Photograph: PTI Photo

In spite of the large crowds that Tejashwi drew and the promise of jobs, why did the RJD fail to come through?

I don't think the Mahagatbandhan got votes on the promise of jobs. It was a referendum on Nitish Kumar's government.

But Narendra Modi's stature acted as a safeguard for the BJP and the NDA managed to win.

What is the future of the JD-U? Do you see a bipolar contest between the BJP and the RJD in time to come in Bihar?

The BJP's strength in Bihar does not come from Hindutva like it does in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Since its strength is not Hindutva, it has to bank on an alliance to be in power. The JD-U has been filling that role in the last 10-15 years.

The JD-U and other parties in Bihar have a social base on the basis of caste. Every caste has to find some political party that takes up their interest. But the future of the JD-U is uncertain.

What kind of government and governance will the next dispensation bring to Bihar?

Governance depends on the political authority of the ruling party. In the next five years, that authority will not be as strong as it was before.

It also depends on the finances of the government for development. COVID-19 has weakened the finances of all state governments, but the government of a rich state like Maharashtra can afford to lose 15% of its income, but a poor state like Bihar cannot.

Covid has weakened the central government's finances too and it will affect the transfer of money from the central government to the state government.

There are two basic functions of government: One function is maintaining law and order, roads etc.

The second is development and economic growth, welfare programmes. If the state doesn't have money, then the second function becomes very difficult.

If you don't have authority, then the first is very difficult.

Especially because the BJP and JD-U will be enagaged in some kind of political tussle which will also make it difficult for the functioning of the government.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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