Highlights of the Bihar elections

Did you spend last Tuesday evening glued to the Television/Mobile screen not to see the IPL match but to see the neck-and-neck battle between NDA and Mahagathbandhan(MGB) in Bihar? We don’t blame you! It was worth the watch and here’s why-

Lead parties in both coalitions – Bharatiya Janata Party for NDA and Rashtriya Janata Dal for MGB bagged the same number of seats with a difference of one but the struggle for survival and the extra push to pull it through was witnessed more by the latter.

Despite a close battle, BJP and Janata Dal (United) along with Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) and Vikassheel Insaan Party together pulled the ‘double-engine’ election with 125 seats when MGB, comprising of Indian National Congress (INC), RJD, and the Communist parties bagged 110 seats.

The two coalitions did not witness the said gap in the vote share where NDA nosed ahead with a margin of 0.03 percentage points. Lok Jan Shakti Party, run by Chirag Paswan, which moved out of NDA at the last moment and decided to fight solo, could manage share of votes in single digits.

The game of shares and margins

When we went further into the details, the gap was seen in the vote share(%) secured by the parties in the contested seats. Most of RJD’s seats fell in the lowest bracket of less than 40% vote share when it was a little better for BJP where most seats fell into the middle bracket of between 40 to 50% vote share. BJP also saw the highest share in seats in which they received more than 50% votes.

All LJP seats fell in the lowest bracket (no surprises there)!

The only area where MGB took a marginal lead was in the number of seats in which they won by a margin of less than 5%. This further pushes the point that RJD-led parties, even though backed by political history, were caught up by the narrative of ‘jungle raj’ and grappled to cross the line.

The first half of the counting (till about 6:00PM) proved to be a good sign for RJD when they saw a steady growth in the number of seats gained per hour. Post sundown, the number of gains also started dropping for the party. BJP saw a great start with gain of 7 seats in the first hour (between 11:30AM and 12:30PM), partly because the margin of votes counted was very thin. The first half was a mix of gains and losses for the party but by the time 80% of the votes were counted, a clear majority could be seen.

Good performance Bad performance

The elections have not been all good things for BJP and JDU as they together lost hold on 27 constituencies in the south west and north east part of the state. The parties, together, had won elections in these constituencies in 2015. Major part of the loss was by JDU, who faced anti-incumbency after ruling the state for 15 years.

BJP and JD(U)’s bad performing seats in 2015
BJP and JD(U)’s bad performing seats in 2020

LJP, though did not turn out to be a big winner, was part of the deal breaker for the Nitish Kumar-led party. In about 53% of seats where both LJP and JDU had contested and JDU was a runner-up, LJP secured more votes than the difference between votes secured by the winning party and JDU. Now, if we take three assumptions – 1. If LJP would be part of NDA, 2. If the party did not contest in these 25 seats, and 3. If all the votes given to LJP were given to JDU, then JDU would have saved the 25 seats out of the 59 which it lost.

The left saga

The area lost by BJP and JDU was mostly bagged by RJD and Congress who together gained about 20 of the 27 seats. Even though the total seats won by MGB+AIMIM is far below the majority belt, the winning spread is not concentrated to one particular area of the state but has a wider reach.

Reach of the Left parties

The AIMIM, which did not win any seats in 2015 also bagged 5 this time but was concentrated to the north-east of the state. Two of the five constituencies were bagged by JDU during last elections.

Seats won by the AIMIM

Overall, the results, even though backed by castes and emotions, favoured the saffron party majorly due to the ‘Modi factor’ along with promised schemes supporting cash transfers, women, and youth.

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