Millennium Post

Modi now on slippery slope

BJP could win only 4 seats out of ten and two of them with narrow margins, while out of the 10 seats, where by poll was held, its candidates had led in 8 assembly constituencies during Lok Sabha elections. Not only this, 6 of these seats were held by BJP MLAs since assembly elections of 2011. BJP could not retain the assembly seats vacated by its senior leaders like Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Janardan Singh Sigriwal.

BJP had got three targets and was trying to achieve one of them. Its most ambitious target was to win 8 seats out of ten and to repeat its performance of the last Lok Sabha elections. Its less ambitious target was to win at least 6 seats and witness a situation of no gain no loss. Its face saving ambition was to win 5 out of 10 seats and to show it is on equal footing with the grand alliance of RJD, JD(U) and Congress. But it failed to realise even the face saving ambition and gave a psychological lead to its political adversaries of Bihar, which were reeling under depression after the stunning win of BJP and its alliance partner in the last Lok Sabha election.

After the last Lok Sabha elections, the political scenario had witnessed a major change after the alliance of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav. Congress was already with Lalu. The parties put up common candidates, while BJP left one seat to Lok Jan Shakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan. The lone candidate of LJP lost the election, signaling that Ram Vilas Paswan is a spent force of Bihar and he is a liability, rather than an asset for BJP.

Under the seat adjustments, RJD was contesting 4 seats and its candidates won on three, while JD(U) candidates could win only on two out of four and Congress won one out of two seats it contested Interestingly during last Lok Sabha elections, Congress candidates had led in two out of 10 assembly seats, where by poll was held.  Hence, the party which gained most in this by poll was RJD, which won 3 out of 4 seats it contested. We can say, not only BJP, but also JD(U) of Nitish Kumar  was also a loser. It could not match the striking rate of RJD.

The loss of BJP in Bihar by poll can be attributed to two factors. One factor is the alliance of Lalu and Nitish. The Lalu led front has got 30 per cent votes in the last Lok Sabha elections, while Nitish led front (which included some left parties) had got 17 per cent. The combined strength in arithmetical term was 47 per cent, while NDA had got 39 per cent. Hence it was being predicted that the grand alliance will  be ahead of BJP and its partner. According to this analysis, this is victory of political arithmetic of Lalu and Nitish. The second factor may be attributed to the decline of Modi wave, which swept most of India during the last Lok Sabha elections. No one can deny that both factors played role in deciding the result of the by poll of 10 assembly constituencies of Bihar.

But, the Modi factor proved to be more decisive. There was no Modi wave in Bihar election and a decline in vote percentage was telling the story of the absence of it. In Lok Sabha elections, more than 56 percent of electorate had voted in Bihar, while during the latest by-poll, only 46 percent of voters turned out to exercise their franchise. It was due to Modi wave, Bihar had recorded voting on such a huge scale during Lok Sabha elections and the absence of the wave was responsible for the fall of voting by 10 percentage points.

Had there been Modi wave, BJP could have repeated its Lok Sabha election results, despite the grand alliance of Lalu and Nitish. And it is also a fact that without the alliance, RJD, JD(U) and Congress could not have defeated BJP in most the seats even with low vote percentage.

Is Narendra Modi losing his shine after 2014 Lok Sabha elections? Even in Uttarakhand by poll, BJP had to taste defeat and that was attributed to the desire of Uttarakhand voters to continue with the Harish Rawat government. But in Bihar, the result of the latest by poll was not going to affect the stability of Manjhi government. The government has comfortable majority with outside support of RJD and Congress.

It will be wrong to say that the absence of Modi wave was due to the decline in Modi’s shine. In fact Narendra Modi has many supporters outside BJP fold. Those supporters are attached to Modi and they had voted for him and not for his party. Their support to Modi is personal and in these by polls, Modi is not an election issue, hence their supporters did not get out of their homes in large number. In fact many apolitical voters have turned political supporters of Modi, but Modi cannot transfer all votes of these apolitical supporters to his party candidates.

He could do it in Lok Sabha elections, where he was a projected PM candidate of his party. His apolitical supporters voted for his candidates to make him prime minister and now they think their mission has been accomplished. They are not interested in state elections.

This is the message, which has emanated from the results of the Bihar Assembly by polls. It suggests that BJP has a very tough task ahead in Bihar. It can think of winning next assembly elections only if the voting is around 55 per cent. And for this, it has to depend on Narendra Modi. If his government delivers and fulfills the expectations he has aroused before the LS poll, BJP may improve.

The victory in by polls may consolidate further the Lalu and Nitish alliance. The striking rate of Lalu was higher than that of Nitish. Obviously, Nitish will have to accept Lalu to play big brotherly role. IPA
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