Bihar polls have generated a lot of heat in the Indian media. Its Modi / Paswan / Kushwaha / Manjhi on one hand vs Nitish / Lalu / Sonia on the other hand. A lot is at stakes in these elections for a lot of leaders – Modi, Amit Shah, Lalu, Nitish. The outcome of the polls could shape national politics in coming years. The election campaign so far has been high pitch. Both sides have levelled allegations against each other. As election dates approach, more mudslinging is likely to be witnessed.
BJP terms Lalu-Nitish alliance as opportunistic. Lalu & Nitish charge similar allegations citing Paswan had called BJP names in his earlier avatar. “Who will win Bihar?” is a million dollar question and nobody is willing to put their neck out and give an answer.
I will try to answer this question in a series of articles (five) based on a number of factors – trend analysis, expected vote share, caste wise break up of MLAs in the assembly, analysis of bye polls (held after Lok Sabha polls) and any other factor which comes into my mind during research.
Some people on social media have criticised my articles on Bihar citing it is too data based and historical facts don’t mean anything in these elections.
As Mark Twain has put it, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Aldous Huxley has opined “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” So history is very important if you want to understand the future.
In the first part of the series, I try to analyse the bye polls election results held in Bihar after Lok Sabha polls last year. This is very important as the grand Janata alliance of Nitish-Lalu-Sonia fought polls together for the first time in Bihar. It was purely formed to defeat BJP and ensure survival of these big regional leaders (Nitish & Lalu) and revival of Congress in Bihar. In a way it was the first time that this grand alliance was put to test.
It is very difficult to predict who will win Bihar because the actors in this play have been keeping on changing sides.
- In 2010 assembly polls, BJP & JDU fought together against RJD & LJP and Congress (BJP+JDU vs RJD+LJP vs INC). Kushwaha and Manjhi were in JDU at that time.
- In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Nitish and BJP parted ways. Paswan ditched Lalu and joined BJP led alliance. Congress and Lalu patched up (realising split of minority votes) and came back together again. Nitish left alone tied up with CPI. So the fight was between BJP+LJP+RLSP vs RJD+INC+NCP vs JDU+CPI.
- In 2014 bye-polls, Nitish ditched CPI. He joined UPA and formed a grand alliance. So fight was between BJP+LJP+RLSP vs JDU+RJD+INC. CPI didn’t ally with anybody.
- In 2015 assembly polls, NCP unhappy with fewer seats allocated has left UPA / grand Janata alliance, Manjhi’s HAM has joined NDA. So fight will be between BJP+LJP+RLSP+HAM vs JDU+RJD+INC.
The results of these polls were as follows (seats):
|Party||2010 Assembly Polls||2014 Lok Sabha||2014 Bye-Polls|
- BJP which had won 6 seats in 2010 and which lead in 8 assembly constituencies (along with LJP) in Lok Sabha polls managed to win just 4 seats in bye-polls.
- The newly formed Janata alliance (which in 2010) won 4 seats and lead in 2 assembly constituencies in Lok Sabha polls managed to win 6 seats.
- The whole logic of Nitish and Lalu coming together is combined vote share of JDU+RJD+Congress (45.1%) > BJP+LJP+RLSP (39.4%) in Lok Sabha elections held in May 2014. Of course it assumes votes can be easily transferred among member parties. While arithmetic plays a key role in polls, elections are not all about arithmetic but also chemistry.
- In 2 seats, the arithmetic logic didn’t work – Narkatganj and Mohania. In both of these seats Congress was leading in the Lok Sabha polls. BJP snatched both these seats from Congress in bye-polls.
- In 7 seats, the arithmetic logic worked. 5 of these seats were won by grand alliance. On 2 of these seats (Hajipur and Banka), though grand alliance vote share got aggregated, BJP still won these seats because of huge gap in Hajipur and BJP increasing its vote share in Banka vs Lok Sabha polls.
- In 1 seat (Jale), the arithmetic didn’t work but Janata went onto win the seat as BJP lost vote share.
So Janata arithmetic worked in 70% of the seats (7), but only in 5 of these seats did it result in Janata win ahead of NDA candidate. In 1 seat, arithmetic didn’t work but still Janata alliance won the seat. In 2 seats it didn’t work at all.
Of course, this is a small sample (10 / 243) and national / state elections are fought on different issues, however it does show a trend. These 10 seats represent 6 out of 9 divisions of Bihar.
In terms of vote share, while NDA lost vote share as compared to Lok Sabha performance (36.9%), Janata+ managed to aggregate the vote share of different partners and got 45.5% vote share.
So who will win Bihar?
In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BJP+ were leading in 172 / 243 seats and Janata+ in 64 seats. If one adds JDU+RJD+INC votes in assembly segments, BJP could lose half of these seats. Purely based on this trend Janata Alliance could win Bihar handsomely winning 150 seats and BJP+ 86.
Based on the trend in bye-polls, Janata Alliance could lose 20% of the seats on which it was leading in Lok Sabha polls (-13), this brings the tally down to 51. However, it could win 60% of the seats where BJP+ was leading (+103). This takes Janata+ tally to 154 seats and BJP+ tally to 82 seats. Same as above.
A note of caution – this assumes easy transfer of votes among Janata partners and trend in bye-polls repeating in assembly polls. Based purely on arithmetic and trend in bye-polls (and not taking into account any other factor) Janata alliance has an upper hand and could easily emerge victorious in these polls.
Stay tuned in for Part II in which I will focus on the trends of results between Lok Sabha and assembly polls held in the state.
BJP – Bhartiya Janata Party, JDU – Janata Dal (United), LJP – Lok Janshakti Party, RLSP – Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, INC – Indian National Congress, NCP – Nationalist Congress Party, CPI – Communist Party of India