Patna/New Delhi: Bihar
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Wednesday steered the National
Democratic Alliance (NDA) to a historic electoral triumph by
bagging 84 percent of the seats and decimating the Lalu Prasad-led
opposition while virtually erasing the Congress from one of
India's most populous states.
In a verdict that left even experts groping for words, Bihar's
ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
alliance rode to victory on its development plank and was
projected to win an incredible 204 of the 243 states.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) combine
led by Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan, considered kingmakers
until just a few years ago, was trailing at number two with 29
And the Congress, which rules the country and contested all 243
seats, was left lagging at a humiliating third with a dismal five
seats, less than even the nine it mustered in the 2005 poll.
Emphatic, resounding, decisive… Many adjectives did the rounds as
analysts and politicians attempted to grasp the extent of the poll
victory that has propelled JD-U chief Nitish Kumar to a second
term of governing the state of 83 million.
The trends were seen right from 8 a.m. when counting began of the
28 millions votes polled from Oct 21 to Nov 20. It was largely
seen as a victory of development versus the regressive politics of
caste that had for long dominated the state, considered one of the
poorest and most backward.
Stating that development had won in Bihar, Nitish Kumar, whose
past is rooted in the country's now virtually defunct socialist
movement, said people wanted to put the state on the path of
progress and pointed out that this election had seen more women
voters than men.
"Bat banane ka daur khatam ho gaya hai. (The time to talk has
ended)," he said, adding that those who fought the election on the
basis of caste had been defeated.
"Logon mein jagriti ayee hai, woh apni kahani likhega. Yeh chunao
ne nayee khani likhi hai. (People have awakened, this will write
its own story. This election has written a new story)," the toast
of Bihar said.
Although both the JD-U and BJP, who have been aligned since 1996,
made substantial gains over their 2005 strength, leaders of both
credited the win largely to the charisma of Nitish Kumar.
As wild celebrations broke out in the JD-U and BJP headquarters in
Delhi and Patna, BJP leaders stepped out one by one to hail the
victory - Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shankar Prasad,
"I congratulate the people of Bihar for showing extreme maturity,"
"It marks a new signal in Indian polity. It is a victory of
meritorious leadership over dynastic politics," he said, taking a
swipe at the Congress, which fielded its president Sonia Gandhi
and general secretary Rahul Gandhi for campaigning in the
"We didn't have much hope," Sonia Gandhi admitted while talking to
reporters outside her residence. "The results indicate that our
party has to start from scratch and that is what we plan to do."
Her colleague Home Minister P. Chidambaram added while
congratulating Nitish Kumar for the "great show" that the
"development argument has prevailed".
"We wish them the best for running a progressive and forward
looking government," Chidambaram said.
Smarting under the humiliating defeat that saw his wife and former
chief minister Rabri Devi routed as well as his brothers-in-law,
RJD chief Lalu Prasad congratulated long-time rival but not the
BJP as he "hates" it for its communal views.
As the political world wrote his political epitaph, he said: "We
are not discouraged, we will do our duty as the opposition."
In political analyst G.V.L. Narasimha Rao's views, this election
result showed that "leadership and development were becoming
crucial factors" while caste and other such factors were becoming
"There are many elections which resulted in this kind of outcome,"
Rao told IANS, adding that it was very unusual for the Hindi
heartland though not so in places like Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
While analysts debated, there was also a groundswell of support
for events back home from the many migrant workers and youngsters
who left home for better opportunities. Maybe this was the
gamechanger that would ensure that their state was no longer 'BIMARU',