Mahagathbandhan's victory in Bihar

At 1300 hours, counting is still underway but the trend is loud and clear… it’s Nitish Kumar who will form and head the Mahagathbandhan government in Bihar. Though the final result is yet to be announced, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called Nitish Kumar on telephone to congratulate him on the impending win in this election in a final sign of conceding defeat. Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah have also called up Nitish Kumar to congratulate him on the Mahagathbandhan victory.

Contrary to all exit poll predictions, the Mahagathbandhan is set to win over 150 seats (the results may vary by end-of-day), while the NDA is likely to end up on the lower side of 80. The BJP was leading in 62 seats, NDA partner LJP was leading in 7 seats, RLSP in 3 seats, and HAM in 2 seats.

From Mahagathbandhan, JD(U) was leading in 69 seats, RJD in 75 seats, and INC in 18 seats.

Others were leading in 8 seats. SP, NCP, JAP(L), and AIMIM were drawing a blank.

The result is definitely going to result in several careers changing, for some positively and for others it will be a nosedive. The BJP has already gone into defensive mode to try and protect the PM whose staked his personal credibility in line by becoming the face of the NDA campaign. Now, he must stand up and accept responsibility for the results.

By 1100 hours when the trends began to clearly point to a Mahagathbandhan win, Home Minister Rajnath Singh was seen to be visiting RRS supremo Mohan Bhagwat’s residence, leading to speculations on the purpose behind the visit. Amit Shah has called a BJP Party meeting on Monday at his residence.

Voices against the BJP strategy have started making the rounds. BJP MP from Patna Shatrughan Sinha has already tweeted ‘the Bahari versus Bihari debate has been settled once and for all’, in another tweet he said that democracy had won and the people of Bihar had to be congratulated.

P. Chidambaram has said the time was right for Rahul Gandhi to take over as party president.

Rahul Gandhi has tweeted that it was a victory of humility over arrogance.

Sitaram Yechury has stated that it was BJP’s campaign that backfired against them. He spoke of Modi wave being stopped at Delhi, Kerala and now Bihar.

Bihar Elections: Mahagathbandhan wins Bihar !

8 pm 

The final results are out and official. Mahagathbandhan wins Bihar putting the brakes on an NDA juggernaut.

Whether it was Mahagathbandhan who defeated the BJP or Nitish Kumar who beat Narendra Modi at his own game is a matter of perception but there is indeed a deep lesson for both sides when they analyze the final numbers. The Final results are as follows:

Total seats: 243

Mahagathbandhan

JD(U): 71

RJD: 80

INC: 27

NDA

BJP: 53

LJP: 2

RLSP: 2

HAM-S: 1

Other parties

CPI (M-L) (L): 3

Independents: 4

Others:

What does this victory mean for the Mahagathbandhan?

The biggest message Bihar has given out to the nation is that development and secularism are preferred over polarisation and communalisation. This victory is proof of that and now the real challenge for Mahagathbandhan begins.

With this victory, national and regional parties have a renewed hope in challenging the Modi-led BJP juggernaut and now they also have in Nitish Kumar, a leader that they can rally around to put up a national alternate to the BJP.

The Congress has been fighting a lone battle in Rajya Sabha but now with this win there is a chance that other parties may join forces to further strengthen the opposition to BJP’s agenda.

BJP is now going to face even more resistance in both houses and it will have to rise above itself and reach out to the opposition if it hopes to push any reform agenda.

The victory has also given a new hope to the Congress, which was relegated to the back pages of national politics. The fact that they have made relatively handsome gains will strengthen Rahul Gandhi’s transition into the party President.

Mahagathbandhan will now try and rope in other regional parties into its fold as elections draw close in Assam, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala in 2016.

How does this defeat impact BJP going forward?

It directly impacts the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his trusted lieutenant and party President Amit Shah. Both were directly responsible for the campaign and both will have to answer to the party. BJP saw itself rapidly emerging as a strong national party and nursed serious ambitions in breaking regional grounds, with Bihar being its first serious attempt. Going forward, this defeat will make it very difficult for the party to make inroads in various state elections coming up in 2016.

Narendra Modi staked his reputation as an election winner with his rasping oratory and led the entire campaign from the front. He now comes out far weaker and the problem for the country is that fringe elements who were subtly challenging him by making public statements at a time when he was trying his best to win over voters in Bihar, are now going to become even more bold.

While Modi is trying to emerge from the shadows of the RSS and be his own person, this defeat will only force him into being even more docile, as the Hindutva brigade becomes more overt and aggressive. If BJP wants to stop the downslide, it has to have a serious talk with Mohan Bhagwat and the senior team at RSS and decide on whether they wish to continue to push the Hindutva agenda. If that’s the case, BJP can kiss goodbye to 2019, provided it completes the full term. Team Modi has to assert itself and bring the development agenda back on the table, and Narendra Modi is the best man for it.

Chest thumping histrionics to an international audience won’t cut ice anymore, internationally or back home in India. There are serious issues pending like GST, Land Acquisition Bill, labour reforms, investment, inflation and social security, all which need urgent attention and the PM will do well to focus more on domestic issues and leave the foreign agenda to the External Affairs minister.

Amit Shah will certainly face opposition to his re-election as party president when the party elections come up next month. The party will have to figure out a new role for him.

The nation gave a strong mandate to BJP, and Narendra Modi in particular, with the hope that he will deliver on his promise to lead India into a developed and prosperous nation. That mandate stands and therefore, the PM and his team will do well to drop the arrogance of 2014 and embrace with humility the lesson that November of 2015 has given it. One hopes ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ is implemented in its true spirit.