After the rout of the Grand Alliance in Bihar, not surprisingly a blame-game has started with many social media warriors holding the leader of opposition in the Assembly Tejashwi Prasad responsible for the poor performance. The NDA won 39 out of 40 seats in the state. Congress managed to retain only Kishanganj seat while RJD, RLSP, HAM and VIP drew a blank.
The truth, however, is that everyone in the grand alliance camp wants to save one’s skin and heap blame only on one person.
When the entire country barring a few south Indian states were swept by the BJP, it is clearly not appropriate to make Tejashwi the scapegoat. Yet one has to owe responsibility and the Lalu family can not escape it,
But the truth is that the Grand Alliance in Bihar was, unlike in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, at a disadvantageous position from the very beginning. While in UP most political pundits were expecting a good fight from SP, BSP and RLD alliance, in Bihar most of the surveys were giving as high as 32-36 seats to the NDA ever since the seat sharing arrangements were finalised in the National Democratic Alliance in December last.
There was very valid reason for it. Never since the 1999 Lok Sabha election had the BJP, Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan fought unitedly. In that post-Kargil war poll the NDA won 41 out of the then 54 seats in undivided Bihar. That was the election when the RJD contested in alliance with the Congress and CPM. Even Lalu Prasad then lost from Madhepura to Sharad Yadav––although with relatively slender margin of 32,000 votes, The three parties together could win only seven seats while six other went to the JMM and one Independent.
So arithmetically the NDA was always at an advantage in Bihar in 2019 too. The Modi factor made the combination more lethal. Thus there was no scope of any (mis)adventure or political gambling in the Grand Alliance camp.
So when Lalu Prasad reached out to highly unreliable leaders like Upendra Kushwaha of RLSP, Jitan Ram Manjhi of Hindustani Awam Morcha and Mukesh Sahini of the Vikassheel Insan Party he was under huge compulsion to do so.
Lalu and Tejashwi were aware of the fact that these three leaders would not be able to woo the entire Kushwaha, Dalit and Sahni or Nishad votes yet even if they succeed in attracting some of these votes it would have worked to the advantage of the Grand Alliance.
Sensing that they are in demand Upendra Kushwaha, Manjhi and Mukesh Sahini as well as the Left parties started seeking more than their pound of flesh. They all wanted more than half a dozen seats. Then there was a big demand from the Congress whose state organization started over-estimating itself.
All these muscle-flexing by these parties of the Grand Alliance delayed the seat sharing arrangements till a day after the Holi, that is March 22. By then the NDA candidates in most of the constituencies had started campaigning.
Then came the ugly spat between the CPI and RJD over the Begusarai seat from where the Left wanted to field Kanhaiya Kumar. The truth was that a section of national media––having little knowledge about the ground reality in Bihar––over-projected Kanhaia. The Left liberals thought that ensuring victory of Kanhai was the only work to do in this election.
So they spent no energy in campaigning for the Grand Alliance but only for Kanhaia. The truth is that in the last 52 years the CPI had never alone won from Begusarai. The last time one of their candidate won was in 1996 and that too in alliance with Lalu Prasad’s party.
A false narrative was spread about Begusarai being the Leninngrad of Bihar when the fact is that this Russian city is now known as St Petersburg. It was wrongly argued that the CPI alone got 1.93 lakh votes in the last Lok Sabha poll when the truth is that it got so many votes simply because it contested in alliance with Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United then. Most of these votes were of Nitish and not of Left.
The infighting within the non-NDA camp left a bad taste and it seems that nobody was interested in putting up any challenge to the Modi wave.
As if that was not enough: Pappu Yadav threw his hat in Madhepura to jeopardise the prospect of Sharad Yadav. In return many of the RJD supporters did not vote for his wife and sitting Congress MP from Supaul Ranjit Ranjan.
So the Grand Alliance lost both the seats which otherwise it could have won. In Madhubani Congress national spokesman Dr Shakeel Ahmed threw his hat as rebel and walked away with about 1.31 lakh votes, thus ensuring the defeat of Grand Alliance candidate in that constituency.
In Darbhanga RJD leader and former MP M A A Fatmi and his supporters left no stone unturned to ensure the defeat of fellow partymen Abdul Bari Siddiqui.
As these rumblings among the senior leaders of Grand Alliance were going on when Lalu Prasad was in Ranchi jail and unable to handle the situation.
Things were not hunky dory within the Lalu family too where elder son Tej Pratap was out to ensure the defeat of his estranged father in law and Saran candidate of the party Chandrika Rai.
Not only that Tej supported his own candidate in Jehanabad from where RJD’s Surendra Yadav lost narrowly.
Analysts are of the view that even in this adverse situation the Grand Alliance would have fared much better than complete rout this time had they jointly started preparation much earlier.