Co-authored by Subhash Chandra (Political Insights Consultant) and yours truly Suryakirani Tiwari aka Politicalbaaba
The Bihar cricket match has ended on a sour note for NDA supporters. The match which was widely expected to be a close battle ended up being massively one sided.
The five phases were like the five days of a test match with fortunes swinging from one side to the other during the course of the match. While it was widely believed that Phase V (Day 5) would decide the winner, after results it became clear that the match was actually over on Day 4 itself.
Junior partners Manjhi’s HAM and Kushwaha’s RLSP could win only 3/42 seats contested. The senior partners of BJP and LJP also similarly could win only 55/201 seats contested. While it appears that the poor performance of allies led to NDA defeat the reasons are far more complicated
The Bihar elections in the end was a game of contests. Whichever side won the tough contests and nailed the easy ones ultimately won.
The MGB team was led by Nitish with Lalu as vice-captain. The two fought 202 seats together. The NDA team was led by BJP with Paswan as vice-captain. In a similar fashion as MGB they fought on 201 seats.
The contests between BJP – RJD and BJP – JDU were expected to be tough. Other contests were expected to be relatively easy like:
- For BJP (BJP vs INC),
- For RJD (RJD vs LJP / HAM / RLSP) and
- For JDU (JDU vs LJP / HAM / RLSP).
So while BJP had only 41 easy contests, JDU & RJD combined had 84 (243-159) easy contests. This is where BJP tactically erred.
In the scheme of things BJP expected to win 90 odd seats (55%) and allies another 35 odd (40%) to sail it through. That is the reason why BJP fought on the maximum number of seats (159) because it was confident of its good show and realized that junior allies could struggle.
BJP Head to Head Contests
BJP performed fairly well against JDU, BJP won 28 while JDU won 29 in 57 head to head contests. However it performed poorly against RJD and INC contrary to expectations. The reasons could be that some Yadavs did not vote for JDU candidates where Lalu’s party was not contesting. As per CSDS exit poll while 74% Yadavs voted for RJD candidates, only 60% voted for JDU candidates. A section of upper castes also appear to have voted for Congress candidates peeved at the treatment meted out by BJP which also declared it will put up a backward CM. As per Axis poll 70% upper castes seem to have voted for NDA in these elections vs 78% in Lok Sabha 2014 polls.
LJP Head to Head Contests
LJP performed poorly against all MGB partners JDU, RJD and Congress (INC) in head to head contests. Paswan seems to have lost some support of his Pasi / Paswan community (54% voting for LJP as per C-Voter exit poll vs 60% in LS 2014). This may actually even be lower because C-Voter wrongly predicted NDA vote share at 40% vs actual 34%. A section of BJP voters did not seem to vote for Paswan candidates across seats. In 6 upper caste contests between LJP and MGB, LJP won only 1 seat. Even a section of Mahadalits led by Manjhi may not have supported him due to tussle of one up-manship amongst them.
Performance of Various Parties –Strike Rate
While BJP won 33% of its seats contested, LJP won less than 5%. Compare this to team MGB – JDU won 71% and RJD 79% of its seats. Even Congress which was considered as the weak link won 66% of its seats double that of BJP.
Why NDA loss in Bihar is BJP (captain’s) failure?
Failure in setting up an example and leading from the front
It managed to win only 44 / 131 tough contests with JDU & RJD. The other side’s captain and vice-captain foxed BJP.
Failure in nailing the weak point in Team MGB – Congress
BJP picked up 28 contests with relatively easier team Congress. The results here were shocking – BJP managed to win only 9. Congress won 19. In 5 seats where there were upper caste candidates from both sides BJP won only 1.
Failure in maintaining the Lead in tough contests
Of the 38 seats that were narrowly lost (< 10%) in 2014, BJP could wrest only 24% of them from the MGB. Further it lost 54% of the seats that were narrowly won (<10%) in 2014.
Failure in picking up the correct squad due to failure in reading the pitch correctly
- It gave 19 seats to debutant Manjhi who still had credentials to prove.
- 23 seats were given to RLSP and 42 to LJP (7x of Lok Sabha seats won) when they batted well in LS polls only because Modi was the non-striker. If there was no Modi wave these guys would not have won so many seats in Lok Sabha.
- In the 42 constituencies from the most affluent districts (> Rs 15,000 per capita income), allies were ahead in only one seat in 2014, yet BJP offered them 31% of the seats. Allies won none of these seats in the 2015 election.
Failure in providing support / motivation to other players
BJP ground workers along with RSS failed to ensure transfer of BJP votes to the Allies in Allies contested votes. While BJP contested seats saw a loss of nearly 1,500 votes per seat over 2014, Allies contested seats saw a loss of nearly 8,500 votes per seat.
Failure in maintaining discipline in dressing room
Comments by numerous BJP senior leaders in Bihar on the likely CM may have confused and turned off numerous upper caste voters. Additionally comments on beef ban and Bihar loss will not be a referendum in Modi govt. performance at the center. No action was taken against errant players which put off a section of voters.
Failure in coordinating communication with press / media
Anti-reservation comments by BJP coach & mentor (RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat) alone may have led to a loss of 4% share (CSDS Data) leading to substantial damage to the campaign.
Failure in mobilizing support and ensuring a full house in the stadium to cheer Team NDA
In spite of Bihar being low on Turnout generally, BJP ground workers failed to increase turnout by a big percentage indicating a weak or less motivated worker, a deadly situation for any party in a serious contest.
This is beautifully captured in the below cartoon provided by Siddharth Tiwary (@siddharth316)
All the above failures seem to suggest that BJP support staff – Bhupendra Yadav, Dharmendra Pradhan, Ananth Kumar were struggling to run a fully oiled campaign.
In the end, poor performance in relatively easy seats, poor allocation of seats to allies, poor support for allies on the ground and poor communication management with the RSS all ended the NDA dream in Bihar. It is high time that BJP as a true leader and great captain take the blame of the loss and learn appropriate lessons. Else there may be a hat trick of losses in Assam…..