The NDA pulled off a surprise victory in the Bihar elections despite anti-incumbency against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. NDA bagged 125 and MGB 110 seats. The exit pollsters got it all wrong except for Dainik Bhaskar which was mostly an online poll. Tejashwi Yadav’s swelling crowd in rallies didn’t translate into votes.
RJD emerged as the single largest party with 75 seats while BJP finished a close second with 74 seats. JDU suffered a loss of 30 seats compared to 2015 while Congress 8 seats. The Left parties put up a spirited performance winning 16 seats.
So how did NDA pull off this dramatic victory warding off a serious threat from Tejashwi Yadav led MGB.
1. BJP achieved highest strike rate
BJP, the vice captain of NDA, compensated for the loss of form of captain, Nitish Kumar’s JDU, which suffered from anger of migrants, voter fatigue and a rogue ally in Chirag Paswan.
It achieved the highest strike rate amongst parties winning 2 out of every 3 seats it contested riding on performance of the central government, Modi’s popularity and steps taken to mitigate the impact of lockdown on poor and migrant workers (free ration, Jan Dhan transfers etc.)
|Tally||Seats Contested||Strike Rate|
2. The loyal voter of Nitish stood with him
Despite reports to the contrary JDU kept its traditional vote block of Non Yadav OBCs, MBCs and Mahadalits intact. It received a vote share of 15.4% which is almost the same as the 16% it recorded while contesting on a standalone basis.
While there could have been some disenchantment within its core vote bloc due to the hardships faced on account of the pandemic, the fear of return of Yadav raj may have prompted them to stay with Nitish. He has built this loyal vote bank over the years.
The decline in its tally is purely on account of the damage inflicted by LJP on the seats it contested.
3. The Silent Women Vote Bank of CM and PM
Women turnout again in Bihar was higher by 500 basis points compared to men. The women folk of the state have backed the Nitish-Modi jodi due to popular welfare schemes of the state and the central government like free cycle distribution, prohibition, Jan Dhan accounts, beti bachao beti padhao, Ujjwala gas connections, LED bulb scheme etc.
The improved law and order situation in the state coupled with the fear of return of jungle raj if RJD makes a comeback propelled this vote block to back the NDA candidates. According to Axis My India clarification on why it’s exit poll was wrong, it stated that females voted at least 5% more in favour of NDA.
Picture Credit: India Ahead News
4. Double Engine Growth Theory – Bharosa
The Prime Minister’s often repeated pitch of double engine ki sarkaar during his rallies in Bihar worked with the voter. The state has witnessed 1.5 times the national average growth during Nitish Kumar’s tenure. With the state government’s finances like any other has been hit by the COVID-19, support of the central government becomes very crucial.
People of the state wanted to avoid a situation like in West Bengal or Punjab where Congress governments are in a state of direct confrontation with the central government. In all this the public of the state suffers. A tumultuous history between Lalu family and BJP warned the voters of any such misadventure.
His appeal to the voters of Bihar to vote for a government whom they have bharosa on struck an emotional chord.
5. Split in opposition vote
The race to the finish was tight. Both NDA and MGB finished neck to neck at 37% vote share each. LJP recorded 6% and GSDF, PDA, Smaller parties and Independents 18%. The split in the opposition vote helped NDA romp hime.
NDA did register some decline in support amongst SCs and MBCs but all of this was not picked up by MGB. LJP and BSP picked up some Dalit votes, RLSP some Kushwaha votes. A non-united opposition with the race triangular and quadrangular in many seats helped NDA beat anti-incumbency against Nitish.
Loss /Gain of NDA & MGB vs 2019 General Elections
|OBC & EBC||-10%||7%|
To sum up, NDA pulled off a miraculous victory with a charged Tejashwi almost stealing the show banking on his unemployment promise and ability to attract youth voters. In the end, BJP’s experienced election machinery and last mile connectivity with the voter worked for the advantage of NDA.