Defying exit ballot predictions, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has retained power in Bihar. At the time of going to press (11:45 pm), the NDA had wins/leads in 124 out of the 243 meeting constituencies in the state, two above the midway mark of 122.
The Mahagathbandhan (MGB) had wins/leads in 111 ACs. The NDA comprises the Janata Dal (United), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Vikasshel Insan Party (VIP) and the Hindustani Awam Morcha Secular (HAM). The JD(U) and the BJP have allocated seats from the HAM and VIP from their own quota.
The MGB has the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress and the three left parties, namely the Communist Party of India Marxist Leninist Liberation (CPI-ML), Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) and the Communist Party of India (CPI). An HT analysis shows that the headline numbers on seat shares hide a large number of nuances which define the 2020 Bihar contest.
This used to be a actually near election
While the NDA has a 5.3 percentage point lead over the MGB when it comes to seat share, they had nearly identical vote shares of 37.21% and 37.23%. To make certain, this isn’t the first time that a winning party/coalition has got a disproportionately higher seat share than its vote share. For instance in the Congress managed to surge ahead of the BJP in the 2018 Madhya Pradesh elections when it comes to seats, despite getting a lower vote share than the latter.
The NDA’s vote share is the lowest for the winning alliance in Bihar since the 2010 meeting elections, and only moderately higher than 36.1% vote share of the NDA in the elections held in 2005 October. The vote share of parties out of doors the two major alliances has increased to 25.6%, 1.5 percentage points more than the 2015 meeting elections. The truth that the non-NDA non-MGB parties have won just 3.3% of the ACs, the lowest since October 2005, shows that they’ve acted in large part as spoilers in these elections.
See Chart 1: Vote share and seat share of NDA, RJD plus and others in Bihar
The NDA got its act together from the second one phase onwards
A phase-wise analysis of the elections suggests that the NDA gained a massive momentum after the first phase. While the MGB won 67.6% of the 71 ACs in the first phase, its strike rate dropped to 44.7% and 26.9% in the second one and third phase. For the NDA, strike rates improved in each and every phase; from 29.6% in the first phase to 54.3% and 66.7% in the second one and third phase. This sample suggests a silent counter-polarisation in the back of the NDA, indication that its strategy of attacking the MGB by evoking memories of “jungle-raj”; a term frequently used to attack bad governance when the RJD used to be in power from 1999 to 2005, has paid rich dividends. The truth that the MGB used to be shown as gathering momentum as the polls progressed might in truth have aided this counter-consolidation. An HT analysis of gender-wise voting sample shows that women vote might have played a big role in the NDA’s victory.
See Chart 2: Phase-wise strike rate
An election of churning in both identity and ideology
An established way of analysing elections, particularly in the a very powerful states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh has been to use the binary of social identity as opposed to Hindutva. While the forces of Mandal, a term used for parties which have had their core reinforce base among other backward classes (OBCs), such as the RJD and the Samajwadi Party, have banked on a dominant OBC plus Muslim consolidation, the BJP has tried to build a rainbow Hindu coalition to counter this strategy. In Bihar, the JD(U) has been an integral component of the BJP’s strategy of building a disparate Hindu coalition against the RJD’s Muslim-Yadav reinforce base. Both the Congress and the left got pushed out in this realignment of political forces.
The 2020 Bihar elections propose a churning on both the identity and ideology fronts. The truth that the BJP has performed much better than the JD(U) shows that the votaries of Hindutva are increasingly more asserting that the BJP will have to replace the JD(U) as the senior partner in the NDA in Bihar. An nearly reflect image of this phenomenon can also be seen in the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s (AIMIM) impressive performance in the Muslim dominated Seemanchal region of Bihar. It shows that a remarkable section of Muslims have provided up on being supporters of the RJD and are willing to do trade with a party which champions their identity, even at the risk of bringing the BJP to power. In the five ACs where the AIMIM has won is leading, MGB candidates were in the third position in four ACs, whereas the NDA used to be in the second one place.
In a similar fashion, the truth that the left parties, which are expected to have a more coherent ideological critique of the BJP, have outperformed both the RJD and the Congress when it comes to strike rate in the MGB, suggests that merely evoking identity or adopting a centrist plank, may not be enough to counter the BJP’s political appeal in today’s age.
See Chart 3: Party-wise strike rate of NDA and MGB partners