Analysts say absence of a CM candidate and polarising remarks by some BJP leaders were main reasons.
As Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance trounced the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance in the Bihar polls, leaders and political analysts termed it a victory of ‘principles over moneybags’ and ‘defeat of intolerance’.
Stunned by the defeat, the BJP leaders said the party will take corrective measures, while its long-time ally Shiv Sena appeared taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi by saying that the Bihar election results ‘denote decline of the leader’.
Soon after the trends showed the Grand Alliance taking a lead over NDA, Janata Dal-United chief Sharad Yadav described it as a ‘victory of principles over moneybags’.
Political analysts said that the reasons for the victory of Grand Alliance of JD-U, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress mainly included Nitish Kumar’s popularity, while some of them also said voters are showing a tendency to prefer different parties at Centre and in the states.
Similar views were expressed after Delhi assembly results.
Prashant Kishore, was in the core team of Modi’s campaign during Lok Sabha polls, has also emerged as a key strategist in national politics as he successfully engineered a winning formula for the Grand Alliance too.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had come out in support of the Grand Alliance during the polls, congratulated Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad on victory and termed it a ‘victory of tolerance, defeat of intolerance’.
The issue of intolerance dominated the national debate during the five-phase elections in Bihar with a large number of artistes, writers and others returning their awards to protest against what they called an ‘atmosphere of rising intolerance’ in the country.
Among others, the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comment on a rethink over caste-based reservations also was a key issue during the elections and is said to have consolidated backward votes against NDA.
The polarisation debate is also said to have consolidated minority votes in favour of the Grand Alliance.
The comments from various BJP leaders including by Union minister V K Singh on Dalits and other issues could have also played a role, the analysts said.
Initially, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Akbaruddin Owaisi was also seen as playing a spoilsport in the Grand Alliance by trying to corner minority votes, but his party failed to make a dent.
Congress mostly remained on sidelines during the polls as the smallest component of the Grand Alliance and this is also being seen as having gone against the NDA whose main plank in the Lok Sabha polls last year was attacking the ‘60-year misrule of Congress’.
Another factor that went against the BJP was that it did not project a chief ministerial candidate during the Bihar polls, although similar was the case in neighbouring Jharkhand as also in Haryana and Maharashtra where the party scored very well.
BJP leader and Union Minister Ram Kripal Yadav said it was up to the top brass to analyse the results.
However, his cabinet colleague Prakash Javadekar maintained that the fight remained close and claimed the pattern of voting was different this time with members of same family seeming to have voted for different political parties. “It is a work of pure arithmetic of opposition unity,” he said.
The BJP’s parliamentary board is likely to meet on Monday to analyse the poll results and will examine all the aspects and factors leading to the party’s below par performance against the Nitish Kumar-led alliance.
Another BJP leader Ram Madhav, however, dismissed talk of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal being on the wane in view of the verdict but said the party will take corrective measures from its loss.
He remains their ‘strongest’ factor and the party was right in using it the most, Madhav said. “We try to learn from every election. Give us some time. We will take corrective measures,” Madhav said.
Delhi Chief Minsiter Arvind Kejriwal also congratulated Nitish on his ‘historic victory’. Earlier, he had said it was important that the BJP loses in Bihar so that it realises that ‘hate politics’ will not work in the country.
Needling the BJP, its ally Shiv Sena said the Bihar elections results ‘denotes decline of a leader’ and asserted that it will bring in a ‘new’ turn in the country’s politics.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut also said if elections were to be held in Maharashtra now, similar results will emerge.
“BJP fought the Bihar elections under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. BJP should accept it. Defeat denotes the decline of a leader. If elections are held in Maharashtra now, same results will come as happened in Bihar,” he said.
He said that elections are fought on leaders and referred to Congress’ defeat in Lok Sabha when its president Sonia Gandhi was held responsible.
“Nitish Kumar has emerged as a superhero. His victory was the need in Bihar. He has done good work in Bihar. I greet him on behalf of Shiv Sena. The results in Bihar will bring a new turn to politics of the country,” he said.
Congress leader Ahmed Patel said, “Well done Bihar. Congratulations to the leadership and workers of Congress, RJD and JD-U. They have worked hard to defeat the false claims of NDA.”
Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images