November 15, 2020

Bihar Assembly Election Results

THE Bihar assembly election has gone in favour of the BJP-JD(U) alliance narrowly. It has won 125 seats as against 110 seats for the Mahagathbandhan.  However, the difference in vote share between the two alliances is only 0.2 per cent. 

Despite its success in the election outcome, the NDA had its share of setbacks.  Compared to the 2019 Lok Sabha election, there was a 12.4 per cent swing away from the BJP-led alliance.  The anti-incumbency and discontent against the Nitish Kumar government manifested in the JD(U) getting only 43 seats as compared to 71 in the last election.  The defection of Nitish Kumar to the BJP camp in 2017, after being the chief minister of the Mahagathbandhan government, was not taken kindly by the people and he has suffered for this naked opportunism. 

The election campaign of the Mahagathbandhan led by Tejashwi Yadav saw a big response from the youth and his focus was on jobs and economic justice. The participation of the Left ensured that the thrust of the election campaign was on jobs, the economic distress caused by the lockdown,  reverse migration, farmers’ issues and the rights of the working people. 

The good performance of the Left parties winning 16 seats, of which 12 were won by the CPI(ML), two by the CPI(M) and two by the CPI showed that this was an election in which people responded to the issues which mattered most to them in their lives.

As usual, the BJP sought to use its Hindutva agenda – Article 370, Ram temple, getting rid of infiltrators and so on.  Narendra Modi declared that there are people who are opposed to the slogan of `Jai Shri Ram’.  That the BJP could improve its tally and win 74 seats is a cautionary message that communal politics combined with caste-engineering still exercises a strong influence. 

While a deeper analysis of the election results will be necessary to draw proper lessons for the future, one major takeaway is that forging a wide opposition unity is essential in the struggle against the Hindutva-authoritarian danger.  The good fight put up by the Mahagathbandhan illustrates this.

There is also the fact that such electoral alliances require partners not to demand and fight seats out of proportion to their strength and influence.  The 70 seats that the Congress fought proved to be a weakness for the alliance; it could win only 19 seats.

The Bihar election has, thus, shown certain positive aspects in terms of – building an effective electoral alliance; taking up relevant people’s issues, offering some pro-people policies and the ability to appeal to and rouse the youth.  These must be taken forward in the coming days in the country as a whole.

(November 11, 2020)