Elections 2019: There seems to be clear undercurrent for Prime Minister Narendra Modi (File)
Patna: In Bihar, two rounds of polling have taken place and both the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the opposition Mahagathbandhan leaders are claiming that their alliance has done well. This time, the political equations are completely different from 2014. Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United is in an alliance with the BJP and a BJP ally is now with the RJD of Lalu Yadav. Also unusual - the BJP is contesting the same number of seats as Nitish Kumar's party.
Here are Top 10 takeaways from polls in Bihar so far:
- There seems to be a clear undercurrent for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Even NDA supporters attest to the fact that it's not as strong as the previous election but the votes that NDA candidates are getting are mainly in the name of PM Modi.
- The pro-Modi undercurrent is greatly helped by the re-entry of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in the NDA fold. In constituency after constituency, one can see the polarisation of EBC (Economically Backward Caste) votes in favour of the NDA, which everyone acknowledges is due to the Chief Minister, who heads the Janata Dal United.
- Unlike 2014, when there was a Modi wave, this time one can see a pro-Modi consolidation as well as an anti-Modi consolidation driven by the Mahagathbandhan. So if the NDA has BJP, Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan, the opposition alliance also has Tejashwi Yadav's RJD, the Congress, Upendra Kushwaha, Jeetan Ram Manjhi and Mukesh Nishad. Mr Manjhi, Mr Kushwaha and Mr Nishad are not able to transfer the votes entirely but definitely some.
- NDA's campaign is much sharper and well-coordinated. Unlike the opposition alliance' rallies, in which Tejashwi Yadav is yet to share a stage with Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Nitish Kumar can be seen with the BJP's Sushil Modi and LJP's Ram Vilas Paswan, and it seems to have the desired effect. The Janata Dal United is believed to have done well in urban seats traditionally called BJP strongholds, like Gaya and Bhagalpur.
- Aware that the BJP rank and file looks at him with a lot of mistrust, Nitish Kumar is going all out to blunt that perception. That is why he has put off till the end of this month the release of his party manifesto, in which on the contentious issues of Ram mandir, Article 370 and the Citizenship bill, his stand is entirely different from the BJP. Nitish Kumar in his speeches steers clear of all controversial topics like Balakot, Kashmir and terrorism, and seeks votes on the 13 years of his work and targets Tejashwi and his family.
- But what is heartening for opposition candidates is that unlike 2014, this time not only the Yadav-Muslim vote bank is intact but there are also add-on votes of Mr Kushwaha's party, and those of Mr Nishad and Mr Manjhi. This has given NDA leaders and candidates the jitters.
- When it comes to infighting, rebel candidates and dissension, the NDA has "outdone" the opposition alliance. The NDA failed to manage Putul Devi (BJP rebel) from Banka. Faced with discontent among Bhumihar voters who were upset over just one seat for them, BJP leaders moved swiftly, and rebels like Satish Dubey and Sachidanand Rai were flown by special plane to Bhubaneswar to meet with BJP President Amit Shah.
- In the rival coalition, a senior RJD leader Mangani Lal Mandal left the party and Ali Ashraf Fatmi is in the fray as the rebel from Madhubani, which is likely to damage the official candidate.
- It had seemed at first that Mahagathbandhan leader Tejashwi Yadav would be able to keep the focus on issues but it seems the NDA has been able to dictate the agenda.
- What is helping the NDA more on the ground is the government at the centre and the state as it helps in election management. Nitish Kumar, who always harps on no compromise with corruption, communalism and crime has reinstated two officers charged with corruption cases just on the caste consideration.
Get the latest election news, live updates and election schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on ndtv.com/elections. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the 2019 Indian general elections. Election results will be out on May 23.