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India: Why Bihar rejected Modi-Shah and embraced Nitish
November 9, 2015, 8:44 am

Bihar has awarded the performer. And punished negativity and needless aggression. This is the dominant feeling of most political analysts and voters from the state.

The stunning victory of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Grand Alliance is widely viewed as a vote for his good governance, his innately soft nature and the “social engineering” he achieved with friend-turned-foe-turned-ally Lalu Prasad.

The BJP failed in Bihar as there was no substantial anti-incumbency against Nitish Kumar. But the BJP attempted its best to tarnish his image by mouthing fears of “jungle raj” if he took power with Lalu Prasad.

Joining hands with Lalu Prasad was obviously a risky decision, but Nitish Kumar went ahead calculating that the caste combinations it would bring about would deliver the results. It did.

Many also felt that the personal attacks mounted on the soft-spoken Nitish Kumar by Modi and Shah had backfired.

Nitish Kumar used all the jibes directed at him to remind voters about Bihari pride — just the way Modi used to do during his tenure as Gujarat chief minister.

And while Modi was aggressive, Nitish Kumar retained his poise. He never lost control of his temper, even while facing the most personal of attacks.

Many voters both during the campaign and after the results came out on Sunday made it clear that they did not approve of the language and style of the prime minister.

Observers cite three major reasons for the defeat of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance in Bihar.

The first reason is the observation by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat to review country’s reservation process right in the middle of the poll process.

Finding a major poll issue, the Grand Secular Alliance went to the masses, extensively raising the matter in every election rally, telling them how the BJP’s ideological head was conspiring to scrap reservation of the socially poor castes. The issue ultimately united Dalits, backwards and extremely backward castes who were divided into various segments. This ultimately spoiled the poll prospects of the NDA. The backwards, dalits and the extremely-backward castes roughly account for some 80 per cent of the total population and the huge mandate the Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance got is indicative of how they lent their support.

The second factor was the “negative campaigning” by Modi and his allies.

Instead of focusing on his “development agenda” and his plan for the state, the Prime Minister went too aggressive against the rival alliance at every rally. While he questioned the DNA of Bihar chief minister Kumar and indirectly called Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad as “shaitan” (devil), the Congress was charged with having indulged in 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

The third factor was Modi’s failure to fulfil the promises he made to the voters during last year’s Lok Sabha poll campaign. One of them was bringing backblack money stashed in foreign banks and crediting Rs1.5 million (Dh83,460) in the bank account of every Indians.

“Modiji had promised to credit Rs1.5 million to the bank account of every Indian and hence I opened my bank account hoping for it but got nothing in the end. So I voted against him in the election. There were many villagers who joined me,” said Krishnandan Kumar, a resident from Vaishali village.

Observers say the poll outcome will have an impact on the national level. While the Modi government will get further weakened and find it hard to push through its reformist agenda due its inadequate number in the Rajya Sabha, it will encourage the oppositions parties to come together and defeat the BJP, taking a lesson from friendship between two arch-rivals Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar who joined hands together to unitedly take on the BJP after their severe poll defeat in the last year’s LS polls. Now the fate of Amit Shah too hangs in balance following two successive defeats as it badly exposes his organisational skills.

Source: Gulf News

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