By Campus Watch:
Ever since BJP’s massive loss in the Bihar elections, a concern has arisen as to whether the party is slowly losing its hold across the country. While many factors were responsible for BJP’s loss, it is difficult to look at the larger picture and guess beforehand whether Bihar is the mirror to BJP’s failure in the national elections in the future. We asked the youth for their opinion on why they think BJP lost in the Bihar election and whether it will impact the nation in the future:
There was no anti-incumbency feeling towards Nitish Kumar and it was unlikely for him to be voted out unless BJP gave the electorate a better vision. Given the BJP’s record in its one year of rule at the centre, few people would have found their promises trustworthy. Also, Lalu Yadav posed greater political questions to the BJP than anybody has in the recent times, with a call to action for a renewed subaltern politics, which sabotaged BJP’s polarising campaign.
The national impact visible currently is the willingness of people- even those inside the BJP- to speak out against the Prime Minister. The Indian National Congress (INC) may try to gain from the results but I don’t see it succeeding unless they are in a partnership with someone like Lalu or Mayawati. Their kind of campaign is perhaps the only anti-dote in regions where BJP might hope to win.
According to me, it is quite prevalent in news and articles that Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks for the reservation went against the favour of the BJP. Also, Bhagwat made a statement ‘arakshan ki sameeksha karenge’ (we will revise the reservation policy), which was neither a proper statement, nor came at a proper time. Lalu elevated this remark in his favour, provoking Bihar’s backward people to vote for him. And moreover, Lalu-Nitish seemed to be a strong pair and additionally Congress came out to be the icing on the cake. And BJP, instead of taking a lesson from the Delhi defeat, made only mistakes out of over-confidence. Also Modi’s (extra) frequent visits across the globe left his picture as someone who was ignorant and complacent about India’s development.
The reversal of the Modi juggernaut by the Grand Alliance in the recent Bihar elections may have come as a surprise to many, considering the historic mandate that the BJP won in the national elections of 2014, but to a large extent this defeat was inevitable. First, BJP’s ‘Modi-centric’ campaigning which capitalised on the Modi’s aura of invincibility may have underplayed the importance of local leaders. The current political scenario is a completely different picture from what is was at the time of the national elections. Modi as the selling point of BJP is no longer a viable strategy.
Second, BJP failed to contextualise its manifesto to suit Bihar. The agenda of social justice presented by the Grand Alliance captured the minds of the voters as opposed to the vague idea of development put forth by the BJP. Third, the BJP grossly undermined the role of caste in the electoral politics. Bihar still remains a conservative bastion on the caste front and while the Grand Alliance portrayed itself as the champion of the backward classes, the BJP struggled to shed its image as a party for the upper caste. Lastly, the political equation in Bihar is complex. Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav share a connection with the people of Bihar which the BJP failed to establish. The Bihar elections, dubbed as the ‘mother of all elections‘ by the Chief Election Commissioner is in many ways a referendum of the people on the performance of the ruling NDA government. The BJP has to prove itself by making good on its promises made during the national elections. Given the overwhelming support it received, it is yet to inspire the confidence of the electorate.
The reason I think why BJP lost the Bihar Election is probably due to the fact that Bihar’s people have realised that before maintaining a strong relation elsewhere in the world, one needs to look into the intricate problems of its own citizens.
According to me, one of the major factors responsible for Mahagathbandhan’s victory was the people’s trust in the ruling power of Nitish Kumar as a good administrator. There were many developments brought in by Nitish Kumar like improvement in literacy rate, building of roads, schools, medical improvements, introduction of various schemes, etc. that gave him an upper hand in this election. Narendra Modi’s streak of promises did not translate into votes and inflation of items like ‘dal’ moreover irked the common masses.
Secondly, not learning from the defeat in Delhi elections, the BJP continued to play dirty politics where they engaged in continuous name calling and taking pot shots at the opposition party. Whereas, Nitish Kumar’s main agenda during political campaigning was to focus on the development of Bihar. Lastly, with the entire beef controversy and the outlandish statements made by BJP party in the aftermath of it did not suit the voter’s interests. Also, the side-lining of major senior BJP leaders who had a strong foothold in Bihar, and side lining throughout the campaign was another issue. So much so, that the ‘Bihari- Babu’ leader Shatrughan Sinha showed his displeasure on Twitter and said, “Not a question of Bihari vs. Bihari. But of how your own Bihari (Babu) has been treated by own people for no fault…” According to me, these were some of the factors responsible for BJP’s defeat in the Bihar Assembly Election, 2015. With regards to national impact, I believe that apart from having an impact on Narendra Modi’s persona, on whom the entire campaign was solely riding, another impact could be Modi losing his magic wave of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Because, the BJP party did not project a leader for the Bihar elections, it was a direct face-off between Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi. Therefore, a new leader in the form of Nitish Kumar might emerge who could challenge Modi.
With the common man rejecting BJP’s politics of polarisation, the Rajya Sabha will also take a new direction with the BJP finding it difficult to run the parliament now. They might have to form a consensus on issues like of environment, labour laws, land and GST.
One of the most important reasons for BJP’s loss was the absence of any strong local face for the post of CM. People need to know the name of their leader. However, when it comes down to elect someone as their leader, people of Bihar would have chosen Nitish Kumar because of the good changes he brought about in Bihar during his reign. Whereas, people in Bihar are not aware or familiar with BJP’s reign that well. Hence, they would not want to let go someone like Nitish for a leader whose face was not even known during the election period. I strongly believe when it comes down to electing our leaders, people tend to look at their leader’s contributions to the development. Common people always would want to play safe and that’s what they did. As far as the question arises of our nation being affected by BJP’s loss, then technically it might because after their loss it will get difficult for them to get their bills passed in Rajya Sabha specially important bills like GST (goods and service tax) that will affect the country. However, In the end the only focus for our politicians should be how to make India a better country by developing it to the core, for which I have always been skeptical.
New trends are bound to surface in every election. However, in Bihar, the trend of politics being intensely governed by the caste factors has been rigid throughout. The casting of votes solely rests on the caste based agendas of the political leaders. This rigid trend of Bihar politics is a major reason for the victory of Grand Alliance who by increasing the share of OBC MLAs has managed to seek the votes of OBCs of Bihar who constitute 51% of Bihar’s population. This obviously would imply a downfall for BJP which has majorly been the voice of Hindu upper caste. Moreover, if we go by the arithmetic of vote shares, any third party in Bihar is bound to lose when the parties like JDU and RJD having strong base in Bihar form an alliance. BJP or any other party would be in a position to lose when it comes to independent vote share Vs combined vote share. Another probable reason could be the indecisiveness of BJP regarding the Chief Ministerial candidate in Bihar and the Prime Minister being the face of the party. The loss of BJP was a predictable outcome considering the above factors. However, the result of Bihar election having a nation level impact seems to be unpredictable.
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