A detailed analysis of the Lok Sabha election results in Bihar suggests that the NDA, which obliterated the opposition in the state winning all but one out of the 40 seats, is poised to retain power in the assembly polls due next year.
Out of the 243 assembly segments in the state, the RJD led in eight, the Congress in four, the RLSP in one and the HAM in two. Besides these constituents of the Mahagathbandhan, Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM and the CPI(ML) established lead in two and one assembly segments respectively.
In 2015 assembly polls, the RJD had won 80 seats and its old ally the Congress had 28 MLAs. The two parties had then sought to broaden the social base of the combine by forging an alliance with the RLSP headed by Koeri leader Upendra Kushwaha, HAM led by Jitan Ram Manjhi who is a Musahar (SC) and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) founded by Mukesh Sahni who belongs to the sizeable Mallah (Nishad) community.
Facing an election for the first time without its charismatic founding president Lalu Prasad who is serving sentences in fodder scam cases the RJD drew a blank in the Lok Sabha polls putting up the worst-ever performance since the party’s inception in 1997.
RJD sources said the party’s attempt to brazen out the numerous charges of corruption against Prasad and his family and its continued patronage of persons with criminal antecedents found few takers.
In Siwan and Nawada, where wives of RJD leaders convicted in cases like murder and rape were in the fray, they lost by heavy margins to NDA nominees who were making their Lok Sabha debut.
The party also scored a self-goal in Jahanabad, which it lost by about 1,000 votes, a margin less than the number of votes polled by a rebel candidate who was said to enjoy patronage of Prasad’s elder son Tej Pratap Yadav.
The Congress had given tickets to four sitting Bihar MPs of the previous Lok Sabha but it proved to be of little help. Actor-turned-politician and two term MP from Patna Sahib Shatrughan Sinha failed to retain the prestigious seat for the party he had joined recently. Tariq Anwar put up a fight in Katihar but it was not good enough. Ranjeet Ranjan, quite popular in Supaul, lost to a less-fancied JD(U) candidate. Kirti Azad, who represented Darbhanga, was packed off to Dhanbad in the adjoining Jharkhand with no better result.
The only saving grace for the Congress was Kishanganj, which the party retained with a sitting MLA as candidate in place of the incumbent MP who had died a few months ago. The party defeated the JD(U), leading in three of the six assembly segments. The AIMIM, which finished third, and yet polled close to three lakh votes, led in two.
The Congress also led by a slender margin in Mokama falling under Munger Lok Sabha seat which it lost to the JD(U) by over 1.5 lakh votes.
With three MPs in the previous Lok Sabha, The RLSP had walked out of the NDA when its demand for adequate number of seats was not met. In the Grand Alliance, the party headed by former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha was offered five seats and it lost all of them including Ujiyarpur and Karakat from where Kushwaha himself contested.
The party led in only two assembly segments of Karkat, which Upendra had won in 2014.
HAM had fought three seats but it led in only two assembly segments of Aurangabad. In the remaining two seats, including Gaya from where party chief Jitan Manjhi was himself in the fray, the party trailed in all assembly segments.
The VIP sank without a trace, losing all the three seats it had fought by heavy margins and trailing in all the assembly segments falling under these.
Also, the NDA’s victory margin in 23 seats was in excess of two lakh votes and in four of these it was as high as over four lakhs.
When BJP chief Amit Shah had last year agreed to a formula in which the party and its ally JD(U) were to contest 17 seats each, it was a major climb-down by the saffron party, which had won 22 seats in 2014 as against only two bagged by JD(U), which had then contested separately.
The results, however, justify the trust reposed by Shah in the alliance as it ended up obliterating the opposition in the state.
With assembly polls due in about a year and a half, the opposition camp is seeking solace from the fact that it will be a different cup of tea where issues like national security, made a poll plank by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will find little resonance.