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4-min read

No More Lalu in Bihar Samosa as Modi Wave, JD(U) Social Engineering Snatch Yadav Vote From RJD

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at the centrestage of the 2019 elections and, for the first time, there was seemingly no anti-incumbency as people wanted to give him another five years to rule.

Ashok Mishra |

Updated:May 24, 2019, 9:44 AM IST
No More Lalu in Bihar Samosa as Modi Wave, JD(U) Social Engineering Snatch Yadav Vote From RJD
News18 illustration by Mir Suhail.

Patna: The stunning victory of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections is groundbreaking because it has sent across the message that nationalism and national security, terrorism and separatism weighed heavily in the minds of the people in deciding their electoral preference this time in Bihar.

At the same time, the NDA victory is also a rejection of the caste-based politics as the grand alliance (Mahagathbandhan) led by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) failed to win even a single seat of the 40 in Bihar.

The NDA is leading on 38 seats, increasing its tally from 31 in 2014. The BJP and JDU are ahead on 16 seats each while the LJP won all the six seats it contested.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at the centrestage of the 2019 elections and, for the first time, there was seemingly no anti-incumbency as people wanted to give him another five years to rule.

“The NDA victory in the 2014 election was a negative vote against the UPA government while this time it a positive vote for development and national security. It is tsunami of sorts in favour of Narendra Modi,” said former union minister and senior BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain.

The 2019 poll verdict also comes as a testimonial for the NDA government in Bihar and people’s faith in the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi.

It has undeniably brought cheers to the Janata Dal (United), which won 16 out of the 17 seats it contested in broader alliance with the BJP and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). The JD(U) had won only two out of the 38 seats it contested in 2014. The JD(U) had severed ties with the BJP soon after Narendra Modi was declared the Prime Ministerial candidate before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

The verdict reflects that Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs), which constitute little over 30 per cent of the total electorate, solidly stood behind NDA, especially Nitish Kumar. It is the EBC vote-bank, which Lalu Yadav used to describe earlier as ‘jinn’ after his successive poll victories in Bihar assembly polls.

Though Nitish has assiduously nourished the EBCs over the years, they also identify themselves with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who claimed during election campaign that he was being targeted by opponents because he belonged to ‘ati-pichhadi jati’ (EBC).

“The NDA is not only a seat-sharing political alliance but a social alliance of all caste groups, which were annoyed with the 15-year jungle raj of the RJD. While the BJP brought with it the disenchanted upper castes, the JD (U) added the support of non-Yadav backward castes, Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs) and backward Muslims,” claimed JDU MLC Niraj Kumar.

The NDA’s landslide victory in north Bihar constituencies along the porous India-Nepal border indicated people’s concern towards the terror factories set up to recruit the gullible youth of Darbhanga, Madhubani, Chamaparan, Supaul, Araria and Kishanganj districts.

Issues like prohibition, women empowerment, infrastructure development including network of roads and bridges and uninterrupted supply of power ensured by the Nitish-Sushil government had salutary impact on the voters. On the contrary, the ‘SC-OBC reservation in danger’ narrative forwarded by the RJD-led grand alliance during poll campaign failed to yield the desired results.

The poll outcome has come as a major setback for the RJD in Bihar as many of its stalwarts like Sharad Yadav were defeated. It is an outright rejection of the RJD as the memory of ‘jungle raj’ under 15-year Lalu-Rabri rule apparently still haunts people.

However, some poll watchers attribute the debacle to the absence of Lalu Prasad Yadav from the poll scene.

The drubbing does not augur well for Tejashwi Yadav as it has not only questioned his leadership capability to steer the party in the absence of his incarcerated father but also endangered his leadership position in view of his running battle with the estranged elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav.

The election results have exploded the myth that Lalu is undisputed leader of the Yadavs. It showed that politics in Bihar has changed and that ‘charisma of Lalu and family’ does not work anymore in winning elections. The Muslim-Yadav (MY) vote-bank of RJD stands fractured as the RJD-Congress combine could not open its account in the Muslim-dominated eastern region of Bihar.

It indicates that the Yadavs want a respectable position and share in parties or combinations other than the RJD. “The Yadavs are not the captive vote bank of Lalu Yadav or RJD. The embattled Lalu Prasad Yadav would not be able to lead them anymore and his sons lack the calibre and charm to keep the Yadav flock together,” said former Patliputra MP and once Lalu Yadav’s close aide Ranjan Prasad Yadav.

Besides RJD, it was rejection of the Congress even though Congress president Rahul Gandhi campaigned vigorously in Bihar. Congress is the worst sufferer as it has not opened its account even though it had won two seats in 2014. The Congress been sandwiched between the allies, especially the RJD.

Although the Muslims voted against NDA and stood behind RJD-Congress combine, it led to a counter-polarisation of Hindu votes in favour of the NDA.

It shows the near-end of politics of grand alliance partners like RLSP, HAM and VIP. All three of them have failed to open their account although they together contested 11 seats. While the RLSP contested five seats, HAM and VIP contested three Lok Sabha seats each.

The poll verdict may also prove ominous for the RJD before the 2020 state polls as the unity of the RJD legislature party appears to be at great risk. Senior BJP leaders like Sushil Kumar Modi have claimed during election campaigning that ‘50 RJD MLAs were working for the BJP’.

“It is a victory of hope over fear and optimism. People look forward to the NDA government. It is a vote for the future of Bihar,” said Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi.

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

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