NDA has emerged victorious in a tough battle in Bihar. While JDU-BJP alliance bagged 125 seats, Tejashwi Yadav led MGB won 110 seats. Nitish is expected to become Chief Minister again despite lower tally than the BJP.
Tejashwi has made accusations regarding irregularities in counting of postal votes. While LJP damaged JDU prospects as expected, Congress emerged as a weak link in MGB.
There was palpable anger on the ground against Kumar government’s handling of the covid situation, migrant crisis and floods. Tejaswi’s promise of providing 10 lakh jobs gained traction among the youth and crowds swelled at his rallies.
The 15 year jinx together with low probability of a CM winning for a record successive 4th term meant Nitish was battling against history. An astute politician he is, Nitish was aware of his shortcomings in these elections. He understood from day one that he needed the support of his friend turned foe turned friend Modi to bail him out.
Tejashwi edged out Nitish as the most preferred CM candidate in both Axis and CSDS post poll surveys (both of which turned out to be wrong in seat prediction).
The jury was equally divided when it came to whether the JD(U)-BJP government should get another chance. 40% respondents in the CSDS survey indicated that the state government should go while 30% said it should return and 10% said with a new CM.
The satisfaction levels were much lower for Nitish Kumar government (55%) compared to 2015 elections (70%). On the other hand, satisfaction levels with Narendra Modi’s central government was much higher at 64%.
This helped NDA to offset some of the negative sentiment associated with the Nitish Kumar government. 20% voters who were dissatisfied with the state government’s performance, but satisfied with the central government’s work, ended up voting for the NDA, giving it an edge.
While the migrant households were dissatisfied with the way the state government handled the situation they were happy with the Modi government’s steps including free ration, increased NREGA outlay and Jan Dhan account transfers.
In the Axis survey, 3% of respondents said Modi was the main issue / consideration for them while voting after development, unemployment and inflation.
When the question “Why did you vote for NDA’ was posed to respondents, 72% said due to good work done by the central government (43%) and Modi (29%).
On an overall basis, 27% voters were more likely to base their vote on Modi government’s work as per CSDS pre-poll survey.
Faced with a rebellion from Chirag who put up candidates against JDU on all the seats cutting into NDA votes, Nitish needed Modi sahara.
And the Prime Minister, despite a tumultuous history between them,supported Nitish to the hilt. He conducted 12 rallies criss crossing the entire state. When LJP episode created confusion in the minds of voters, and created trust deficit between the cadre of two parties, Modi came out solidly backing Nitish giving a clarion call that he will be CM of Bihar irrespective of the seats tally of BJP and JDU.
This helped Nitish and NDA make a comeback after trailing big time in Phase 1.
After the victory, Nitish was all praise for Modi and thanked him for his cooperation.
“The people are our lord. I salute people for the majority they have given to the NDA. I am also thankful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the cooperation I have been receiving,” Kumar tweeted in his first reaction after the ruling coalition won a majority in Bihar.
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 hit by COVID-19, support of the central government becomes very crucial.
People of the state wanted to avoid a situation where an opposition government elected could get into confrontation with the central government. A tumultuous history between Lalu family and the 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.
Modi was able to sway voters in huge numbers including the undecided voters. The undecided backed NDA in large numbers in Phase 2 and Phase 3 as the momentum picked up and Modi came into his elements targeting the two yuvrajs, Tejshwi and Rahul.
Modi was able to make voters cast the ballot on central government’s work even when he was not the CM candidate. Rahul’s constant taretting of the Modi government only made him stronger and helped divert attention away from local issues.
With this narrow win and tighter grip over Nitish, Modi has once again proved that his jadoo is barkarar.