Bihar Polls – A Curtainraiser

Bihar state polls are due by the end of this year (Oct.-Nov). Nitish after his divorce from BJP is fighting to keep his CM chair along with his foe turned friend Lalu. The polls are expected to be a cracker after an interesting election in Delhi. While Nitish leads popularity charts, BJP has developed a strong caste coalition which enabled it to sweep Lok Sabha polls. It’s a do or die battle for both Nitish and Amit Shah. A win will strengthen further the hands of Modi and Shah. A loss will increase the murmuring voices of dissent in the party.

Politicalbaaba will cover the polls in detail with insightful analysis and projections as polls approach. With this mission I visited recently some villages in South Bihar. Will present the updates in subsequent articles. I start the Bihar polls coverage with the first article which will cover the history of elections in Bihar from inception till 2010 including seats won and vote share of different parties.

Bihar is the 3rd most populous State in the country with 10.4 crore people. Area wise it ranks 13th. It has the second highest density of population in the country at 1,100 per km square (3 times the national average) second only to Delhi. Bihar has low literacy levels at 61 per cent (28th in the country). The State has given the country great politicians like Dr Rajendra Prasad and Jai Prakash Narayan. JP Movement has its roots in the State. Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar in year 2000, whereby its Lok Sabha seats reduced from 54 to 40 and its Vidhan Sabha seats reduced from 324 to 243. The State has the second largest population of Muslims in the country (16.5%).

The state was a Congress bastion from 1951-1967 with a support base comprising of upper caste, harijans / dalits and muslims. Bihar was amongst the 9 States in India which elected a non-Congress Chief Minister in 1967 after Karpuri Thakur (Socialist Party) persuaded Opposition to unite and put up a single candidate against the Congress. The period from 1967-72 saw massive instability in the state – 9 chief ministers and 2 stints of President’s rule. In 1972 elections, Congress won with a handsome majority, bagging 33% vote share ending period of instability.

After Emergency the Jai Prakash movement gained momentum across the country and in 1977 again a non-Congress Government was formed in Bihar. Janata Party (a broad coalition of Bhartiya Lok Dal, Bhartiya Jan Sangh, Socialist Party and Congress O) swept the polls bagging 214 / 324 seats with a 42.7% vote share in line with the mood at the center after Emergency. After the split in the Janata Party (Bhartiya Jana Sangh the parent organization of BJP left this block along with Chaudhary Charan Singh, Jagjivan Ram etc), it became weakened and the Congress bounced back in Bihar in 1980.

In 1985 after Indira Gandhi’s death the Congress got re-elected riding on sympathy wave. The years between 1985 and 1990 saw the comeback of erstwhile Janata Party rechristened as Janata Dal under Vishwanath Pratap Singh. Janata Dal formed a social coalition of OBCs, Yadavs, Muslims to win the elections in 1990 and Lalu Yadav became the Chief Minister of Bihar. This started the Lalu era in Bihar – ‘jab tak rahega samose mein aloo tab tak rahega Bihar mein Lalu’ – he ruled the State for 15 years from 1990-2005. When he was accused in Fodder Scam and had to go to jail, his wife Rabri became the Chief Minister of the State. If the Gandhis can do it, why not the Yadavs. Janata Dal emerged as the single largest party with 122 seats, 41 seats short of majority in 1990 and formed the Government with the support of communists and Independents.

In 1995, Janata Dal / Lalu got absolute majority with 167 seats. In 2000, it was a hung Assembly. Lalu’s Rashtriya Janata Dal emerged as the single largest party with 124 seats. NDA which comprised Samata Party, Janata Dal United and BJP got 121 seats. In a controversial decision, Governor appointed Nitish as CM. He failed to get the numbers and resigned within 10 days. Lalu again formed the govt. in the state.

Janata Dal split into Rashtriya Janata Dal (Lalu), Samata Party (George Fernandes & Nitish) and Janata Dal (United) led by Sharad Yadav. Samata Party partnered with BJP (its earlier friends in Janata Party) to take on Lalu in Bihar. Samata Party later merged into Janata Dal (United).

The State has historically been backward and was part of the infamous BIMARU. Post the establishment of the NDA Government (BJP + JDU) in 2005, Bihar registered amongst the highest GDP growth in the country (of course, low base effect has played a role). In 2003, before the State elections in 2005, Nitish-led Samata Party merged with Sharad Yadav-led Janata Dal United. In 2005 voters have a hung verdict. Polls were again held after 6 months in which NDA defeated Lalu Prasad Yadav handsomely ending his ‘jungle raj’ and Nitish became the Chief Minister with 143 / 243 seats. The period saw massive development in the State deprived under Lalu Prasad Yadav’s regime.

In 2010, people voted for NDA again and they got 206 / 243 seats. Lalu Prasad Yadav was reduced to 22 seats. His party didn’t even get the Leader of Opposition post similar to current Congress like situation in Parliament. The polls witnessed clear support for the NDA with few close contests and was clearly one sided. Only 40 / 243 seats saw victory margins of less than 5,000 votes.

An important point to note is that the break away factions of the erstwhile Janata Parivaar (BJP, JDU and RJD) have maintained / increased their vote share since 1990. They together have achieved vote share similar to what their vote share in 1977 was (42%). It’s another matter that they have been fighting separately. Congress meanwhile has seen its vote share evaporate from 39% in 1985 to 8% in 2010. It won only 4 seats in 2010. It’s ironical that for the fight in 2015 partners have changed. Earlier it used to be Lalu vs Nitish & BJP. Now it will be Lalu & Nitish vs BJP. How times change! That’s why it’s said impossible is possible in politics.

With his conviction in fodder scam Lalu’s political career was over. Then came a reprieve when Nitish backed out of NDA before Lok Sabha polls. Nitish received a jolt in Lok Sabha when his parry managed only 2 seats down from 22 and NDA went on to win 31 seats. JDU vote share was only 16% while RJD+Congress vote share was 30%. NDA got 39% vote share. This prompted the two Lalu & Nitish to settle their differences and come together as Arithmetically their aggregate vote share of 46% is more than NDA vote share. But elections is not all about arithmetic but also chemistry. They don’t trust each other and have joined hands only for survival (JDU) and revival (RJD).

If Nitish was with NDA this elections was a no brainer. NDA would have won. Lalu would have been reduced to less than 10 seats. However their coming together under grand Janata alliance has made the elections interesting. While Zee has predicted a hung assembly with NDA leading, ABP News poll says Janata Parivaar will win. Let’s see who is right!

Seats Won by Various Parties

Name Of Party 1972 1977 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010
Congress 167 57 169 196 71 29 23 9 4
Communist Party of India 35 21 23 12 23 26 5 3 1
Bhartiya Janata Party 25 21 16 39 41 67 55 91
Janata Party 214 13 13 3
Janata Dal 122 167
Samata Party 7 34
Janata Dal (United) (JDU) 21 88 115
Rashtriya Janata Dal(RJD) 124 54 22
Lok Jan Shakti Party 10 3
Socialist Party 33
Congress (O) 30
Janata Party (Secular) 42
Lok Dal 46
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha 11 9 19 10 12 1
Independents 17 24 23 29 30 12 20 10 6
Others 11 8 22 3 17 32 18 14 0
TOTAL 318 324 324 324 324 324 324 243 243

Vote Share of Various Parties

Name Of Party 1972 1977 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010
  % % % % % % % % %
Congress 33.1 23.6 34.2 39.3 24.8 16.3 11.1 6.1 8.4
CPI 6.9 7.0 9.1 8.9 6.6 4.8 3.6 2.1 1.7
BJP 11.7 8.4 7.5 11.6 13.0 14.6 15.7 16.5
Janata Party 42.7
Janata Dal 25.6 28.0
Samata Party 7.1 8.7
Janata Dal (United) (JDU) 6.5 20.5 22.6
Rashtriya Janata Dal(RJD) 28.3 23.5 18.8
Lok Jan Shakti Party 11.1 6.7
Socialist Party 16.4
Congress (O) 14.8
Janata Party (Secular) 15.6
Lok Dal 14.7
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha 1.7 1.8 3.1 2.3 3.5 0.6
Independents / Others 17.1 26.7 31.0 27.8 28.3 28.7 23.7 21.2 24.7
TOTAL 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

List of Chief Ministers of Bihar

No Name Took office Left office Party Tenure
1 Krishna Singh 2-Apr-46 31-Jan-61 Indian National Congress 5419 days
2 Deep Narayan Singh 1-Feb-61 18-Feb-61 18 days
3 Binodanand Jha 18-Feb-61 2-Oct-63 926 days
4 K. B. Sahay 2-Oct-63 5-Mar-67 1250 days
5 Mahamaya Prasad Sinha 5-Mar-67 28-Jan-68 Jana Kranti Dal 330 days
6 Satish Prasad Singh 28-Jan-68 1-Feb-68 Indian National Congress 5 days
7 B. P. Mandal 1-Feb-68 2-Mar-68 31 days
8 Bhola Paswan Shastri 22-Mar-68 29-Jun-68 Indian National Congress (O) 100 days
Vacant[b] 29-Jun-68 26-Feb-69 N/A
(President’s rule)
9 Harihar Singh 26-Feb-69 22-Jun-69 Indian National Congress 117 days
-8 Bhola Paswan Shastri[2] 22-Jun-69 4-Jul-69 Indian National Congress (O) 13 days
Vacant[b] 6-Jul-69 16-Feb-70 N/A
(President’s rule)
10 Daroga Prasad Rai 16 February. 1970 22-Dec-70 Indian National Congress 310 days
11 Karpoori Thakur 22-Dec-70 2-Jun-71 Socialist Party 163 days
-8 Bhola Paswan Shastri[3] 2-Jun-71 9-Jan-72 Indian National Congress 222 days
(total 335 days)
Vacant[b] 9-Jan-72 19-Mar-72 N/A
(President’s rule)
12 Kedar Pandey 19-Mar-72 2-Jul-73 Indian National Congress 471 days
13 Abdul Gafoor 2-Jul-73 11-Apr-75 649 days
14 Jagannath Mishra 11-Apr-75 30-Apr-77 750 days
Vacant[b] 30-Apr-77 24-Jun-77 N/A
(President’s rule)
-11 Karpoori Thakur 24-Jun-77 21-Apr-79 Janata Party 668 days
15 Ram Sundar Das 21-Apr-79 17-Feb-80 303 days
Vacant[b] 17-Feb-80 8-Jun-80 N/A
(President’s rule)
-14 Jagannath Mishra [2] 8-Jun-80 14-Aug-83 Indian National Congress (I) 1133 days
16 Chandrashekhar Singh 14-Aug-83 12-Mar-85 577 days
17 Bindeshwari Dubey 12-Mar-85 13-Feb-88 1068 days
18 Bhagwat Jha Azad 14-Feb-88 10-Mar-89 391 days
19 Satyendra Narayan Sinha 11-Mar-89 6-Dec-89 271 days
-14 Jagannath Mishra [3] 6-Dec-89 10-Mar-90 95 days
(total 1978 days)
20 Lalu Prasad Yadav 10-Mar-90 28-Mar-95 Janata Dal 1845 days
Vacant[b] 28-Mar-95 4-Apr-95 N/A
(President’s rule)
-20 Lalu Prasad Yadav [2] 4-Apr-95 25-Jul-97 Janata Dal, Rashtriya Janata Dal 844 days
(total 2689 days)
21 Rabri Devi 25-Jul-97 11-Feb-99 Rashtriya Janata Dal 538 days
Vacant[b] 11-Feb-99 9-Mar-99 N/A
(President’s rule)
-21 Rabri Devi [2] 9-Mar-99 2-Mar-00 Rashtriya Janata Dal 359 days
22 Nitish Kumar 3-Mar-00 10-Mar-00 Samata Party[6] 8 days
-21 Rabri Devi [3][c] 11-Mar-00 6-Mar-05 Rashtriya Janata Dal 1821 days
(total 2718 days)
Vacant[b] 7-Mar-05 24-Nov-05 N/A
(President’s rule)
-22 Nitish Kumar [2] 24-Nov-05 20-May-14 Janata Dal (United) 3099 days
23 Jitan Ram Manjhi 20-May-14 22-Feb-15 278 days
-22 Nitish Kumar [3] 22-Feb-15 Incumbent

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