Janata Dal (United) chief and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s snapping of the alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may indeed be a blessing in disguise for the latter, suggest media reports.
An analysis of the Bihar elections coverage shows that it was PM Modi factor that saved Kumar in the previous elections.
The chances of the split hurting JD(U)’s prospects are much higher than the converse, the media coverage shows.
Let’s take a look at the factors at play:
DID THE WINNER TAKE IT ALL?
At 67%, the winning percentage of the BJP was much higher than the JD(U)’s 37, even though the BJP had contested 110 seats, five less than the JD(U).
The numbers actually point at how Kumar managed to become the CM thanks to the improvement in the BJP’s performance, even as his party did not impress the voters significantly.
How parties performed in Bihar
2015- 53/157 = 33%
2020- 74/110= 67%
2015: 71/101= 71%
2020: 45/115= 39%
2015: 80/101= 80%
2020: 73/144= 50.6%
2015: 27/41= 67%
2020: 20/70= 28%
BJP was the only big party that performed better, it was vote for BJP.
— Ankur Singh (@iAnkurSingh) August 9, 2022
MODI FACTOR: MEDIA REPORTAGE
An India Today report on November 12, 2020 had underscored the role played by Modi in the Bihar win. It said: “In Bihar political league, PM Narendra Modi emerged as the master blaster of the Assembly election 2020 with a strike rate that made up for Nitish Kumar’s sluggish performance, despite adverse playing conditions due to Covid-19 and floods.”
“PM Modi helped the NDA lift the trophy in Bihar by beating the Mahagathbandhan, led by a spirited Tejashwi Yadav. The lantern is out of power and the arrow has lost its sting, but the lotus has bloomed. The Modi charisma trumped all and won it for Nitish Kumar.”
A day prior, another report in the Economic Times said that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election campaign gave a clear edge to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar. In all the 12 rallies that he did in the state, he laid special emphasis on the work done by his government at the Centre over the last six years.”
“In doing so, the PM covered up for the 15-year anti-incumbency burden of the Nitish Kumar government. His special focus was the financial package announced by the Centre for Bihar.”
“Through Jan Dhan accounts and digital connect, beneficiaries have received money directly in their accounts. Under PM Gareeb Kalyan Yojna, which was announced during the Covid-19 pandemic, Bihar was given ₹17,000 crore. The announcement of free ration till the Chhatth puja also helped the poor and the reverse migrants. In his every speech, the PM spoke about the relief.”
Addressing a large rally in Ramnagar, Bihar. Watch. https://t.co/SpLUAwTCaJ
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 4, 2019
A November 10, 2020 report on india.com had pointed out the interesting “change in the JD(U) chief’s attitude who had previously firmly rejected Modi from campaigning for the polls”. It said “facing immense pressure from the opposing Tejashwi Yadav and Chirag Paswan, Kumar has turned to PM Modi to save his chair”.
An October 31, 2020 report in the Deccan Herald spoke about how the BJP had cut Kumar to size, changing the show from “no Modi to only Modi”.
“I am winding up my speech fast as I am sure, you all have come here to listen to ‘Aadarniya’ (Respected) Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said a sheepish Nitish Kumar, with folded hands, during a recent PM’s poll campaign.
Compare this ‘desperation’ of Nitish with his 2010 Assembly poll ‘diktat’ wherein he reportedly told the BJP patriarch LK Advani that Narendra Modi need not come to Bihar at all for the election campaign, as “when we have our home-grown Sushil Modi”.
On March 27, 2022, The Printthrough pictures, had shown how 13 years apart, Modi-Nitish reflect “cycle that’s moved full circle”.
“Bas ab per pakadna baaki hai (The only thing left is for Nitish to touch Modi’s feet),” quipped the CM’s main rival political party Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on Twitter while sharing the latest picture, purportedly quoting Nitish as once saying: “Mitti mein mil jaunga BJP mein nahi jaunga (I will let the earth swallow me but won’t go with BJP).”
“I will join the soil, I will not go to the BJP.”
Now all that is left is to hold the feet by lying in the soil.
Today’s picture! pic.twitter.com/2559TuN3Up
— Rashtriya Janata Dal (@RJDforIndia) March 25, 2022
In an October 31, 2020 report, the Indian Express said: “While the BJP and JD(U) have gone into this election as the NDA coalition, and even though Nitish is its declared CM candidate, many degrees of separation lie between the two men. There is no Nitish on the Modi poster, and no Modi rebuke for Chirag Paswan who pledges loyalty to Modi as he puts up candidates against Nitish. Stories abound of the BJP cadre taking the cue on the ground, joining the LJP campaign and maintaining its distance from the JD(U).”
“Among the backward castes and Dalits — where, too, passion for Modi seems undimmed — Nitish must contend with an increasing clamour for a “badlav” or “parivartan” that he is seen to be on the wrong side of.
WHAT JOURNALISTS TWEETED
After the Bihar poll results, journalists looked at the reasons behind Kumar’s success.
Rajdeep Sardesai said that Kumar had become an “unpopular leader”.
Political ‘hawa’ from Bihar: Modi still a very very popular leader, Nitish now a very unpopular leader, Tejaswi a rapidly rising leader, Chirag an X factor.. makes for a fascinating election. Or what I call here a ‘shatranj’ election. Do read: https://t.co/wVSwKOJeWP
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) November 1, 2020
CNN-News18’s Marya Shakil highlighted how the BJP insulated itself from the anti-incumbency against Kumar
PM Modi wins Bihar for NDA. Join me as I get the details on how the Bjp insulated itself from the anti-incumbency against CM Nitish Kumar. https://t.co/b9H6Tt39zQ
— Marya Shakil (@maryashakil) November 11, 2020
Swati Chaturvedi spoke about the perceptible change.
Perceptible change in the Bihar political equation. This will be the first election where Nitish Kumar is completely at the mercy of Narendra Modi. The partnership has been reworked.
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) September 24, 2020
Barkha Dutt spoke about the Modi factor.
Bihar wakes up to a NDA government delivered by the BJP to Nitish Kumar. A thriller of an electoral race, well fought by all. But then the winner takes all and the Modi Factor tips the scales. pic.twitter.com/8nOEFWPCB2
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) November 11, 2020
Aman Sharma highlighted the PM’s three-pronged strategy.
How PM @narendramodi covered up the anti-incumbency for Nitish Kumar in Bihar and the ‘Modi votes’ did the magic
Our piece on PMs three-pronged campaign strategy, including emotional pitch to women of sending them rations
— Aman Sharma (@AmanKayamHai_) November 11, 2020
Meanwhile, Kumar himself had thanked Modi and given him the credit for the Bihar win.
The public is the owner. The public-janardan salutes for the majority they provided to the NDA. I am PM Mr. @narendramodi Thank you sir for the cooperation you are getting from him.
— Nitish Kumar (@NitishKumar) November 11, 2020
The Bihar elections was completely PM Modi’s show and Kumar banked on it.