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NDA sweeps Bihar poll
Nitish ends 15-year Lalu era
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, November 22
Nitish Kumar made the most of the wave for a change in Bihar when he led the NDA combine to a landslide victory in the Bihar Assembly elections, ending the 15-year Lalu-Rabri reign this evening.

It was a decisive positive mandate by the people of Bihar, largely in the name of development and less on caste lines.

During the three-month long election campaign, the NDA Chief Ministerial candidate Nitish Kumar time and again appealed to the people of Bihar to vote as Biharis, for development and not on caste lines. His appeal saw the RJD losing its vice-like grip on power it held since 1990.

The NDA registered a comfortable majority sweeping the polls by securing 143 seats out of a total of 243. This was 51 seats more compared to the February polls. This was Bihar’s second elections in a year.

As the six months of the dissolution of the Bihar Assembly comes to an end today, Mr Nitish Kumar is all set to take oath at the historic Gandhi Maidan to form the next government as Chief Minister on Thursday.

Mr Nitish Kumar, who is expected to reach Patna from Delhi tonight, will stake his claim to form the government tomorrow before Governor Buta Singh.

The Secular Democratic front (SDF) led by the RJD could bag 67 seats. The RJD had a share of 56 seats and The Congress could muster only nine seats. The CPM and the NCP could manage one seat each.

The LJP, leading the third front, could muster only nine seats. This was 20 seats less than the 29 seats it bagged inthe February elections. Its major alliance partner, the CPI, could retain three seats.

The CPI (ML) secured five, the BSP four and the SP two seats.

The downslide of the victory margin of former Chief Minister Rabri Devi to a mere 4,500 this time from Ragopur against 25, 000 in the February polls, and the defeat of RJD spokesman Sivanand Tiwari, perhaps could symbolise how RJD-led SDF was routed in the polls as people apparently to a great extent voted for a change in the name of development.

Going by the initial findings, after 15 years of “Mandalisation” of Bihar politics since 1989, the people this time , largely voted in the name of “Development” and “less on caste lines”.

Another interesting shift has been in the voting pattern of the Muslims as suggested by the initial analysis by the election department as was reflected in minority dominated areas like Bihar Sharif, Khagaria, Gaya and few other places, where the NDA scored well.

The leader of the Pasmanda Muslim Samaj(Dalit muslims) Anwar Ali had campaigned actively in favour of JD(U) by charging the RJD with doing nothing for the development of Dalit Muslims.

As a pall of gloom descended on 1 Ane Marg, the official residence of the Chief Minister, the RJD supremo, Mr Lalu Prasad, conceded defeat by promising constructive cooperation to Mr Nitish Kumar. He, however, accused the election commission of harassing the maximum number of RJD candidates during the polls.

As the mood of celebration prevailed in both BJP and the JD(U) offices at Veerchandra Patel marg in Patna, the JD (U) spokesman Sambhu Srivastav admitted that the real hero was the Election Commission and its adviser K. J. Rao who ensured the right atmosphere for free and fair polls.

Mr Srivastav said the NDA would not purse the politics of “vendetta”, and as promised by Mr. Nitish Kumar, the rule of law would be established in Bihar within the next three months.

This was the biggest election exercise in the history of Bihar at a cost of no less than 125 crore.

And in the ultimate analysis, as admitted by Congress spokesman Prem Chandra Mishra, in democracy it is ultimately the people who “hold the key”, and not the exit polls as no one could predict such a convincing victory for the NDA.

Mr Mishra, however, evaded a direct reply whether it was a blunder on part of the UPA at the Centre not to shift Governor Buta Singh after the SC described the dissolution of 13th Bihar assembly as “unconstituional”.


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