The BJP-led NDA looked set to notch up 31 of Bihar’s 40 seats on Friday evening riding the wave of prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
The figure, which would include Ram Kripal’s victory over Misa Bharti in Pataliputra, is one short of what the BJP got in alliance with the JD(U) in 2009.
Till the time of filing this report, the BJP alone had won 22 seats — its highest-ever figure in the state — against 12 of 2009. Alliance partners LJP and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), too, were headed for a clean sweep. Ram Vilas’s LJP party was on its way to win six of the seven seats and the RLSP all three in its share.
Ram Vilas and son Chirag won the Hajipur and Jamui seats, respectively. Upendra Kushwaha, the RLSP chief, also won, defeating RJD opponent Kanti Singh by 1,05,241 votes.
The BJP’s Muslim face — Shahnawaz Hussain — was although staring at defeat by over 9,000 votes.
Several big guns of the RJD-Congress alliance bit the dust with Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar (Sasaram), former Kerala governor Nikhil Kumar (Aurangabad) and former Union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (Vaishali).
The Lalu Prasad led RJD-Congress-NCP alliance retained its tally of six Lok Sabha seats but at the cost of losing what had turned out to be prestige battles for the RJD chief. Both wife Rabri and daughter Misa looked set to lose to BJP rivals Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Ram Kripal Yadav in Saran and Pataliputra, respectively. The party although looked like holding on to its tally of four seats from last election.
An embattled Lalu refused to congratulate Modi. He said: “I thank the people who have voted for our party and alliance. The results are against my expectations but the people who have voted for the BJP will repent in the days to follow.”
The RJD chief asserted that he would keep on fighting the BJP all his life. “There was no wave in Narendra Modi’s favour. It is time for all the secular parties to unite and begin a fresh war on the communal BJP.”
The NDA’s resounding victory across the state’s diverse linguistic, cultural and social regions has, however, given out two broad messages.
First, it marked the end of an era, of over two decades, largely dominated by two regional satraps Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad.
Second, it heralded the beginning of a new era with the BJP — so far considered a party of the urban middle class and banias — making inroads in the state’s hinterlands.
The regions were hitherto dominated by the socialist cadres, particularly after the decimation of the Congress since the 1989 Lok Sabha election.
The party, too, was on way to win several seats spread over north, central and south Bihar it never won in the past. These included Ara, Maharajganj, Muzaffarpur, Ujiarpur, Aurangabad and Munger.
The party’s lone Muslim candidate and former Union minister, Shahnawaz, struggled in Bhagalpur. At the end of 23 rounds of counting, the RJD’s Bulo Mandal had scored a lead of over 9,000 votes. Shahnawaz’s defeat, if it happens, would effectively indicate a rejection of the BJP by the largest Muslim community of India, souring its victory in other parts of the state.
The RJD’s Jagdanand Singh, who lost his Buxar seat to the BJP’s Ashwini Kumar Choubey, described the Narendra Modi wave as a “tornado” but the NCP’s Tariq Anwar emerged victorious in the same whirlpool. He won Katihar, the only seat in his party’s share, from the BJP’s Nikhil Choudhary.
Except the Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region comprising Kishanganj, Katihar, Purnea and Araria where the BJP drew a blank, the NDA registered its emphatic presence in almost every region in Bihar — Mithila, north, central and south Bihar.
The Seemanchal region — bordering Nepal, Bangladesh and Bengal — stopped the Modi juggernaut with Congress’s Asrarul Haq retaining the party’s Kishanganj borough and Tariq Anwar and RJD’s Mohammad Taslimuddin wresting the Katihar and Araria seats, respectively, from the BJP.
The biggest loser this poll was undoubtedly Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) whose party president also lost.
In 2009, the party had won 20 seats but was stranded with two this time round. Even in face of a rout, the JD(U) played a role in stopping BJP in Seemanchal. Santosh Kushwaha trounced Nitish’s bitter critic and BJP nominee, Udai Singh in Purnea by 1,16,669 votes.
Sharad Yadav meanwhile lost to the RJD’s Pappu Yadav in Kosi’s region’s Madhepura — the seat was a matter of prestige for the chief minister and party president.
Pappu’s wife and Congress nominee, Ranjeeta Ranjan, also wrested Supaul, another seat in the Kosi region, from JD(U)’s Dileshwar Kamath.
Nitish preferred to maintain silence on the results while the BJP profusely congratulated the people for reposing their faith in Modi’s leadership.
Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi demanded Nitish’s resignation as chief minister on moral grounds — following the footsteps of his Assam counterpart Tarun Gagoi, who has resigned.