Bihar dumps Modi

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nitish-latestDefying reports and exit poll surveys, the Grand Alliance has won Bihar decisively, thus paving the way for Nitish Kumar to take over the reins for the third consecutive term.  In a contest which was pitched as a Narendra Modi vs Nitish Kumarfight, the alliance of Janata Dal(U), Rashtriya Janata Dal(RJD) and the Congress decimated the BJP-led NDA by winning two-thirds majority. The contest also shows JDU and RJD are competing among themselves to become the largest party in the Assembly.

The Grand Alliance is set to win more than 175 seats,while the NDA is left far behind with less than 60. In the election which many political leaders and pundits said would be a game changer in national politics, Nitish Kumar, who defeated Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has now catapulted himself as a national leader. The opposition has already sharpened their attack against Modi terming the defeat of the BJP as his personal setback . The NDA campaign was led by the Prime Minister himself who had addressed   about 40 meetings.

Nitish has now emerged as the front runner for any possible political alliance against the NDA at the Centre . Signs of this were soon available after the victory was confirmed with regional leaders and chief ministers of different states competing against themselves to congratulate the emerging leader. Modi and BJP president Amit Shah were first to concede defeat and congratulate Nitish Kumar. BJP has called a Parliamentary Board meeting tomorrow to take stock of things.

Receiving Nitish Kumar athis office in Patna, Lalu Prasad Yadav has already made it clear that they will try to take on Modi at the national level. An exalted Lalu said to the waiting media that they will travel to Varanasi, to see whether the prime minister has done anything for his constituency.

After the drubbing it got in New Delhi, Bihar was considered to be an important election for Modi and the BJP which is facing severe criticism from the civil society and political opponents for what they term as the intolerant atmosphere created by the ruling party. With the winter session of the parliament to start by the end of this month, the government would have to deal with an Opposition which will combat itwith renewed vigour.

The hope of getting majority in Rajya Sabha has also been shattered by the Bihar verdict. This will force the government to sit on its favourite legislations, including the Land Acquisition Bill, which were forced to be withdrawn due to stiff opposition.

It was widely expected that the presence of Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM will eat into the Grand Alliance vote. But, even in the Seemanchal area which has sizeable Muslim votes, the AIMIM could not make an impact.  Congress has made some inroads into the area, signaling that it is still a party in which minority has faith in, at least for now.

The RJD may end up as the single largest party in Bihar, followed by the JDU. The performance of the Congress, which had just four seats in the outgoing Assembly, increased their share to 24 seats(when reports last came in).  Though Lalu Prasad has announced Nitish will be the chief minister, it remains to be seen how this veteran involves himself in the functioning of the government.  During the campaign period, the BJP was attacking the Lalu- Nitish alliance, saying that if they are voted to power the ‘ Jungle Raj’ of the Lalu era will resurface.  The performance of the new government  greatly depend on how Nitish can balance with the Lalu in actual governance

bhoopesh@tehelka.com

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