Nitish wave sweeps Bihar

Written by Political Bureau | Patna | Updated: Nov 25 2010, 08:58am hrs
Of the rare certainties in Indian politics, one was the victory for the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U)-BJP alliance in the Bihar Assembly elections. But when it became official on Wednesday, it was staggering in both scale and sweep.

In a state where the lines of caste and class have been effectively etched in stone, the 206-seat mandate (an 84.77% majority) for the NDA rewrote decades-old political equations and formed new ones around identity, aspiration and development.

Bihar has moved ahead, said Nitish Kumar, his measured reaction betraying the weight of the mandate, our opponents didnt realise that. He added: Such a mandate means that the people of Bihar arent impressed by talk anymore, they want us to work. We have no magic wand but peoples trust. I will need to work harder than I did in the last five years and I will not hesitate to do it. The outcome of the elections also proves beyond doubt that it was a victory for development and for the people of the state.

Asked if Gujarat CM Narendra Modis absence during the campaign worked to the NDAs advantage, Nitish broke into one of his few lighter remarks: I am a political activist, you (in the media) are the analysts, interpreting is your domain and I shall not interfere.

For the BJP, too, this was the best news it has got since its rout in 2009. It took its tally from 55 in the last Assembly elections to 91 it contested 102 seats in a victory that even party patiarch LK Advani had not anticipated in a conversation with The Indian Express. As for the Congress, it tried to ride on Rahul Gandhis back contesting all 243 seats but was trounced with state chief Choudhary Mehboob Ali Qaiser losing his family bastion, Simri Bakhtiyarpur, a seat represented by him and his father seven times.

The biggest losers included former CM Rabri Devi from both Raghopur and Sonepur. RJD deputy leader Shakuni Choudhary who has never lost any election lost from Tarapur in Munger to JD-Us rookie candidate Nita Choudhary. RJD state president AB Siddiqui, however, saved the blushes by winning Alinagar (Darbhanga) by a narrow margin.

A higher women, youth, EBC/ Scheduled caste turnout seemed to be one decisive factor in Nitishs favour. Women with 54.7 per cent turnout against mens 50.7 per cent helped script the win thanks to NDAs 50 per cent reservation to women in panchayats.

Even though NDA could not open its account in minority-dominated Kishenganj, it won key minority seats in the Simanchal districts of Araria, Katihar and Purnia. Of the six Araria seats, NDA won five, the sixth going to LJP. In Purnia, NDA won five of six seats with Congress won the Kasba seat. Six of seven Katihar seats went to the NDA.

The most significant example of Nitish making a dent in minority votes was in Darbhanga where the NDA upset the table by winning eight of 10 seats. In the last election, RJD had won eight seats.