Monday, July 13, 2015

The Semi-Final is Over

The recently-concluded Legislative Council elections in Bihar were dubbed by all parties as the big semi-final to the Assembly elections in November. Indeed, it did represent a complete cross-section of the total electorate, in particular the power sarpanches in a state where 85% of the population lives in rural areas. And if the LC results are anything to go by, the BJP is looking at forming a government in Patna by the end of the year.

The BJP, and its allies the LJP and RLSP, didn't just win but also set the tenor the the entire state. While the LJP managed to win just one seat and the RLSP (whose leader has been championing himself as the next CM) scored a duck, the BJP won a majority of the seats it contested. Together, the NDA trounced the combined powers of the RJD, the JD(U) and the Congress, while the Left parties were yet again wiped out from the map.

This is a serious setback to the RJD-JD(U)-Congress troika, essentially a collective of everyone opposed to the BJP. It is an even greater setback to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. If caste equations are anything to go by, upper and lower castes are dumping the alliance, with even Muslims not favoring it. However, to look at it in terms of caste is not entirely correct any more: as the 2014 Lok Sabha elections showed Bihar can rise above caste, as it did with its overwhelming support to the Modi wave that swept almost all of India back then. The irony is that, had Nitish Kumar stayed with the BJP instead of positioning himself as a Muslim champion, he would've enjoyed the fruits of that same wave. And while his political courage deserves praise, his history seems to be set as one of the most spectacular failures in history, perhaps only behind Rahul Gandhi.

The NDA camp has much to think about as well, especially the allies who failed to make a real dent. Caste politics is taking the backseat in Bihar. Will parties follow? 

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