On November 10, the results day of Bihar assembly elections, Naresh Kumar, a fifty something, marble worker (many call him flooring mistri) in the Ekamra Kanan locality of Odisha’s capital Bhubaneswar, took off from work. Having fully charged his mobile phone battery for on the spot report-from relatives back in his village in Bihar’s Munger district, he stayed glued to the TV set.
Naresh has been working in this city for twenty five years. This time, he too had gone home with family to cast vote. As the initial trends confused him, he stepped out of his one room tenement. Blaming the exit polls by TV channels, he said, “Yeh TV waalon ko Bihar ki rajniti samajh nahi ayega. Woh khaali Nitish harega, harega bol rahe hain. Par yakin kariye, phal biparit hoga our Nitish Ji mukhmantri hi banenge. Laluji ke yug main koi jana nahin chahega (TV people don’t understand Bihar’s politics. Trust me, the results will be contrary to what they are showing and Nitish will be the chief minister. None would like to get back to the Lalu era, again,” Naresh claimed as he almost ran back home after having a cup of tea at an OMFED stall.
As Nitish takes oath as Bihar’s CM for the record seventh time, all his die-hard fans like Naresh would be celebrating an extended, Diwali. They will remember Bihar elections 2020 for the National Democratic Party’s (NDA) -of which Nitish is the leader- nail biting victory over a rejuvenated Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) led Mahagathbandhan. Bihar’s voters, like Kumar, have once again proven the exit polls, awfully wrong and that they still believe that the Sushasan Babu-Nitish, who brought about Bihar’s turnaround, post the Lalu Raj, as their best bet.
Nitish’s (JDU) Janata Dal (United) may have been reduced to 43 seats with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) winning in 74 segments. However, putting all speculations to rest, the saffron party, reiterated what it had maintained before the polls: Nitish will be the chief minister. The NDA’s 125 seats provides it the much needed breathing space as it has 15 more seats than its opponent Mahagatbandhan’s 110 in Bihar’s 243 seat Assembly.
The soft spoken, simple living mechanical engineer turned politician, Nitish has proven his administrative abilities as a Union minister, as well. However, he has to deliver his best, in the next five years, because he and his party have already got the wake- up call from the voters. He will have to fulfill the rising aspirations of the people. Given his past records, particularly his 10-12 years as CM, it could well be said that Nitish will try his best to fit the bill. However, for that, he needs all cooperation from the BJP.
As the Covid 19 has altered equations in every sphere of life, it was believed the pandemic to have its effects on Bihar’s poll fortunes. Considering the fact that the state is home to the largest number of migrant workers in the country and that the migrant workers had to go through unimaginable distress during the Covid lockdown, the political experts thought it would surely have its impact on the states’ electorates.
It did provide Tejashwi Yadav and (RJD), a huge issue to garner the support of the masses. The Tejashwi Yadav led outfit succeeded in that to a large extent. With victories in 75 seats, the RJD emerged as the single largest party. Though, he fell short of the majority, Tejashwi did put up a brave fight, despite the odds. However, the RJD now finds the emergence of a new and more powerful opponent in the BJP.
However, the Congress looks clueless and its revival seems, unlikely, at least in the near future. The party needs a lot of soul searching before aspiring to rise to strength, in Bihar as elsewhere in the country. But, before that, it must hold its ground in the few states where it’s in power.