10 takeaways from the Bihar election verdict

While the single largest party, RJD, will sit in the opposition, the second largest party in the Assembly, BJP, is expected to allow the third largest party, JD(U) to head the Government

10 takeaways from the Bihar election verdict

NH Web Desk/Abdul Qadir

The 10 big takeaways from the Bihar Assembly election, which awaits fuller scrutiny, are the following:

1. Low margins of victory: The margin of victory in as many as 28 seats is less than 1000 votes. In 62 seats, the margin is less than 2000 votes. And the margin of victory in 113 seats is less than 3000 votes. A crowded field with too many contestants worked in favour of the better organized and candidates with better resources.

2. Women for Nitish: More women than men cast their votes in this election according to ECI data. And they are said to be the X factor, the silent voters who voted for the NDA and Nitish Kumar. But closer study is required to validate the claim.

3. Tango between Yogi and Nitish Kumar: In the third phase of polling, NDA unleashed Yogi Adityanath. This is the phase where the Maha Gathbandhan fared the worst. This is also the phase in which Nitish Kumar spoke at cross purposes with Yogi. While Yogi delivered rabble rousing speeches against infiltrators, Nitish Kumar dared that nobody could disenfranchise Indian citizens and Muslims. The strategy seems to have worked.

4. Left Resurgence: CPI(ML), which had won three seats in 2015, bagged 12 of the 19 seats it contested. CPI and CPM, which together contested 10 more seats, won four seats, taking the Left tally to 16. This despite NDA’s campaign against Naxals, Maoists, urban Naxals. The resurgence of the Left in the state after 25 years have given them a new lease of life.

5. One in four voters: opted for a party or candidate beyond the two major alliances. The NDA and the Maha Gathbandhan both secured around 37% of the votes polled. Which means that the remaining 25% of the votes went to other parties and independents. Since 1990 no political party has secured more than 25% of the votes polled.

6. Caste is still King?: The results indicate that the stranglehold of caste continued to determine voters’ choice. EBCs and minorities in the Seemanchal area seem to have stuck to Nitish Kumar while the upper castes appear to have sided with the BJP as always. The old Muslim-Yadav support base appears to have remained intact for the RJD.

7. Future of JD(U): With Nitish Kumar having declared this to have been his ‘last’ election ( though JD-U leaders gave the spin that he meant the last election rally) and with no second line of leadership in sight, the future of the party hangs in balance, specially after the electoral drubbing and the back stabbing by the BJP in the election. Can the party survive without Nitish Kumar is the question.

8. Performance of the Congress: While INC won only 19 of the 70 seats its contested, with a strike rate of just 30% which is lower than RJD, BJP and JD(U), its vote share at 9.75% compares favourably to the vote shares of the other three parties, which contested twice as many seats. BJP polled 20% of the votes and JD(U) 15%. What is more, most of the additional 30 seats that the party contested were BJP strongholds, seats which BJP had not lost in the last three to four elections.

9. Local factors count: The three phases of polling in the state do not seem to have followed the same pattern. If the first phase went overwhelmingly in favour of Tejashwi Yadav-led alliance, the second phase gave marginally higher weightage to the NDA. In the third phase, however, the NDA was all over. Regional and local factors seem to have influenced the outcome differently in the three phases.

10. Low turnout and urban seats: The far less than 60% polling in the state indicates a wave-less election. But it remains to be studied which parties were affected more by low turnout of voters, particularly in urban constituencies because of COVID.

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