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5-min read

BJP's Loss of Face in Delhi Elections May Have a Silver Lining for Nitish Kumar in Bihar

The Delhi poll results have undeniably dampened the BJP spirit and, at the same time, enhanced the bargaining capacity of Nitish Kumar during seat-sharing for the Bihar assembly polls.

Ashok Mishra |

Updated:February 13, 2020, 1:54 PM IST
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BJP's Loss of Face in Delhi Elections May Have a Silver Lining for Nitish Kumar in Bihar
PM Narendra Modi with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during ‘Sankalp Rally’ at Gandhi Maidan in Patna. (Image: PTI/File photo)

Patna: A bevy of top Bihar leaders made a beeline during campaigning for the Delhi assembly polls but they seemingly failed to influence the voters drawn from Bihar in favour of the their respective parties as performances of their candidates were dismal.

Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (U) president Nitish Kumar shared dais with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president JP Nadda at two elections rallies.

Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Ram Vilas Paswan also campaigned for the NDA candidates. Besides, a host of JD(U) and LJP leaders from Bihar camped in Delhi and canvassed support from settlers of Bihar for the NDA nominees.

At his Delhi rallies, Kumar had launched an all-out attack on Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, saying some people were more interested in publicity than work.

He also slammed Kejriwal for making false claims over improving the education system in Delhi and asked about the number of school buildings constructed in Delhi in the last five years.

After the debacle in Jharkhand state elections, the BJP, JD(U) and LJP had decided to fight Delhi polls together in a bid to muster support from migrants of Bihar. It was aimed at sending a strong signal for a new bonding and also a positive message ahead of the Bihar assembly elections to be held later this year.

While the BJP contested 67 of the 70 assembly seats in Delhi, the JD(U) contested from two seats and the LJP from one seat. JD(U) candidate Shailendra Kumar contested from Burari seat while SCL Gupta fought from Sangam Vihar. LJP nominee Santlal Chawaria was fielded from Seemapuri reserved seat.

It was for the first time that the NDA partners, barring the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), contested the Delhi elections together. The SAD, oldest ally of the BJP, had refused to contest the Delhi polls together due to its differences with the BJP over the Citizenship Amendment Act.

It was presumed that the BJP and other NDA candidates will benefit due to alliance with the JD(U) and LJP in view of substantial population of migrant people from Bihar in some constituencies. However, the charm of top leaders from Bihar failed to work as settlers from the state apparently threw their weight behind the AAP candidates.

The AAP defeated the JD(U) in both Burari and Sangam Vihar. Nitish Kumar’s party had contested the last assembly polls in Delhi in 2015 but could not win any seat.

The Congress and the RJD had also forged an alliance for the first time for the Delhi polls. While the Congress contested from 66 seats, the RJD had fielded candidates from Palam, Burari, Kirari and Uttam Nagar. RJD candidate Pramod Tyagi contested from Burari, Mohammad Riyazuddin Khan from Kirari and Nirmal Kumar Singh from the Palam assembly constituencies.

To muster support of voters from Bihar, the leader of opposition in the Bihar assembly and RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav camped in Delhi and campaigned for the four party nominees. He also held a public meeting in Vikaspuri area of west Delhi in support of the Congress nominees. Cine actor Shatrughan Sinha, who had quit the BJP ahead of the last Lok Sabha polls and joined the Congress, too campaigned for Congress’ Dwarka nominee Adarsh Shastri.

But Tejashwi and Shatrughan too failed to attract the voters from Bihar and the Purvanchalis. All the four RJD nominees have performed miserably and some of them could not even save their security deposits. “We are not disappointed by the results because people have voted for AAP. But the biggest message is for the BJP, which had resorted to venomous campaign,” said Manoj Jha, RJD MP.

Emboldened by the poll outcome, the AAP is planning to spread its wings in other states, including Bihar, which will go to polls by the end of this year.

“The voters from Bihar have rejected the JD(U) and LJP in Delhi because people are unhappy with the NDA government in the state. We will try to cash in on people’s disenchantment towards Nitish Kumar and contest on our own,” said AAP’s Bihar chief Shatrughan Sahu.

The AAP had made its foray into Bihar and contested 39 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 but it could not open its account. In 2015 Bihar assembly elections, it did not contest but backed the anti-BJP group led by RJD-JD(U) alliance, which won the polls.

In 2019 Lok Sabha polls, it could not find a place in the Grand Alliance but unsuccessfully contested Kishanganj, Bhagalpur and Sitamarhi seats. The vote percentage was not at all encouraging in all the elections it contested in Bihar.

The AAP may have been upbeat over its Delhi poll performance, but the task in Bihar seems to be taller due to strong presence of the NDA led by Nitish Kumar who is known for his development work since November 2005 when he assumed power in the state.

 

Several of his schemes such as the bicycle scheme for girls and reservation for women in Panchayat Raj bodies have earned him accolades countrywide.

The Delhi poll results have undeniably dampened the BJP spirit and, at the same time, enhanced the bargaining capacity of Kumar during seat-sharing for the Bihar assembly polls.

Former BJP chief Amit Shah and Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi have already conceded Nitish Kumar as the ‘big brother’ in Bihar.

The BJP and JD(U) had contested 17 seats each in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls leaving six seats for the LJP. The JD(U) could win only 16 seats, losing the Kishanganj seat to Congress, while the BJP and LJP won all the seats they contested.

Since they forged an alliance in 1996, Kumar played the role of a senior partner till he walked out in 2013.

In 2009, the JD(U) had contested 25 seats, leaving 15 for the BJP. The JD(U) and BJP won 20 and 12 seats respectively. In 2014 parliamentary polls, the JD(U) fought alone winning just two seats while the BJP won 22 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.

In the 2010 assembly elections, the JD(U) was the ‘big brother’ and had contested 141 seats and the BJP 102 seats out of 243 in the state assembly.

The JD(U) had fought the 2015 assembly polls in alliance with the RJD and both the allies contested 101 seats each. The JD(U) won 71 seats and the RJD won 80 seats. The BJP, which contested 157 seats in an alliance with the LJP and others, won only 53.

(The author is a senior journalist. Views expressed are personal.)

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