Opinion over BJP-led NDA alliance’s victory in Bihar Assembly elections was divided from the word go with exit polls showing both sides nip and tuck, but the fact that the ruling party would lose so badly and secure only 59 seats few had expected. With 178 seats, the Mahagathbandhan is going great guns and is all set to form the next government in the state under the leadership of Nitish Kumar. On the other hand, the former has much to introspect.
Here are 5 possible reasons that cost BJP Bihar polls:
- Amit Shah’s Pakistan cracker remark
This one surely takes the cake. It was absolutely injudicious and unwarranted on the BJP President Amit Shah’s part to suggest that if his party lost Bihar polls, people in Pakistan would celebrate by bursting crackers. The chilling implication was that anybody who did not vote for the BJP was a traitor, unpatriotic and thus helping the cause of our neighboring country.
I do not know about Pakistan, but people in Bihar were definitely seen bursting crackers over the BJP’s loss.
‘You are with us or against us’ is not the way a democracy should function. If we go by this logic, in 2014 Lok Sabha elections only 31 per cent people voted for the BJP. Were the rest 69 per cent Indians traitors according to Shah? I do not know about Pakistan, but people in Bihar were definitely seen bursting crackers over the BJP’s loss. I hope the top BJP leaders would learn from their mistakes and refrain from making such ludicrous statements in the future in an attempt to polarize the society.
- Beef ad in newspapers on the eve of polls
Just a day before the final phase of Bihar Assembly polls, the people of the state were greeted with full-page advertisements in leading newspapers showing a young girl hugging a cow, slamming Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on his “silence” over statements made by his allies on beef. This was again unnecessary and counterproductive.
It is to be noted that a lot of undecided voters wait till the last moment to make up their mind about which party to vote for in elections and the BJP’s last minute advertisements were apparently meant to woo them. That also spoke volumes about the party’s priorities. One would expect that just one day prior to polling, the political parties in the fray would talk of important issues plaguing the masses like unemployment, poverty, lack of quality infrastructure and education. But the BJP chose to talk about the Holy cow instead. Need I say more?
Have these ads in Bihar been given by BJP’s fringe elements? Or by BJP top brass? pic.twitter.com/ZRUTbCWk0F
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) November 4, 2015
- V K Singh’s ‘dog remark’
Caste politics has always been an important factor in Bihar elections and Dalit and minority voters have the potential to shift the balance from one side to another. So BJP leader and Union Minister V K Singh’s ‘dog analogy’ over the killings of two Dalit children allegedly by members of an upper caste community in Haryana was not only untimely but also counterproductive for his party in view of the ongoing Bihar polls.
When asked to give his reaction on the ghastly incident in Haryana’s Faridabad wherein two Dalit children were burnt alive allegedly by members of an upper caste community, Singh said,
“When someone throws stones at a dog, the government cannot be blamed.”
And who can forget RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remark on reservation system? So much so that LJP leader Chirag Paswan later slammed the ally BJP saying that controversial statements in the run-up to the Bihar polls were ‘just not needed.’
- Wait for ‘acche din’
It’s been over 18 months in power for the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre and the people at large seem to be still awaiting the BJP leader’s ‘acche din’ promise to fructify. Growing prices of essential commodities like lentils seem to have affected the common man the most. For instance, Tur dal is being sold as high as Rs 190 per kg in the retail market. Similarly, urad dal is selling at Rs 165 in retail and Rs 150 in wholesale. Moreover, PM Modi’s promise of creating millions of jobs is yet to materialize. It seems the people in Bihar decided to give Nitish Kumar another chance to develop the state, instead of banking on the PM.
- BJP’s alleged double speak
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi was talking of vikas (development), his party colleagues were apparently pulling out all the stops to polarize the society along the lines of religion. Was it a careful strategy to play both ways? Because if it indeed was the plan, it seems to have backfired in Bihar. People generally do not like double speak and hypocrisy. While it was a state election, people also take note of what’s happening in the rest of the country before deciding their preferences.
I am sure the people of Bihar known for their political acumen were aware of the lynchings of three persons in different parts of India over ‘beef rumors’ and the protest by writers and filmmakers over ‘growing’ intolerance in the country. People everywhere want peace sans which progressing and attaining prosperity becomes a tad difficult.
The BJP ought to decide now whether it really wants ‘development’ in India or wishes to continue walking on the path of divisive politics that leads nowhere but the abyss of darkness. The people of Bihar have spoken and we better pay heed to them.