Patna: For the first time in seven years, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar lost a parliamentary by-election in his state to Lalu Yadav and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Here are 10 reasons on why the chief minister and his party, the Janata Dal (United) lost a big prestige point in the Lok Sabha seat of Maharajganj in the western part of the state:
The top 10 reasons
- Within the Janata Dal (United), there is private acknowledgement that the party and its leader were complacent and over-confident.
- Nitish Kumar grossly miscalculated the caste arithmetic of the constituency of Maharajganj. Nitish was under the impression that the upper caste Bhumihars will have the decisive role. In fact, the Rajputs are the dominant caste here.
- A few months ago, Nitish Kumar replaced the District President of his party, who was a Rajput, with a man from his own caste, the Kurmis.
- Local party leaders participated half-heartedly in the campaign because many of them are Rajputs who did not agree with Nitish's choice of candidate, state education minister PK Shahi. Some crossed the party line to rally voter support for Lalu's candidate, a Rajput.
- In the last 2010 assembly elections, Nitish's party and its ally, the BJP, won five of the six constituencies here. But for this election, Nitish and his campaign managers refused to coordinate election strategy with the BJP.
- The chief minister abandoned his practice of phoning top BJP leaders to campaign for his candidate. Though senior BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushi Kumar Modi campaigned for the JDU's candidate, sources say that was a voluntary move.
- Critics - many within the BJP - say this reflects an increasing arrogance within the chief minister and the JD(U) in their relationship with a partner.
- The BJP's workers in this area also refused to support Nitish's candidate because they are upset with his aggressive public criticism of their senior leader, Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat. Nitish has threatened to end his alliance with the BJP if Modi is declared the party's prime ministerial candidate, a popular demand within the BJP cadres.
- Nitish, who addressed rallies in the run-up to the election, failed to acknowledge or recognise the public anger over corruption in the local police and administration. Despite his much-lauded development of Bihar, Nitish has failed to check graft within the Public Delivery System (PDS) through which the poor access subsidised fuel and food.
- Though Nitish is also credited with improving the law and order in Bihar, jailed politicians - like former MP Shahabuddin of Lalu's party - addressed voters through mobile phones from prison.
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