Bihar Election : My Take on Experts and Outcome

Bihar election is over. After Delhi, this is the second consecutive rout for Mr. Modi lead BJP against a regional outfit. In Delhi it was AAP lead by Mr. Arvind Kejriwal. In Bihar, it was a Mahagathbandhan made of Janata Dal United – Rashtriya Janata Dal – Congress. Mahagathbandhan was lead by Mr. Nitish Kumar, sitting Chief Minister of the state.There are many explanations and hypotheses that have been discussed all of Sunday, 8 Nov, 2015: 
  • Good cast combination employed by Mahagathbandhan; 
  • RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement on reservation;
  • Beef politics and attempt at polarisation of vote along communal and caste lines;
  • Increased intolerance in the society;
  • Arrogance of Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah;
  • Non projection of any local BJP leadership;
  • Popularity of  Mr. Nitish Kumar as an inclusive leader;
  • Poor delivery of promises made by Mr. Modi in Lok Sabha election;
From my understanding, I am convinced most commentators have no clue why such a verdict has come. Most experts simply guess an outcome and hope they get it right. Sunday morning I was watching NDTV telecast of Bihar election results. Till around 9 or 10 am, NDTV was projecting a landslide for BJP lead NDA. I was listening to commentaries by expert panelists. All of a sudden, it was discovered that there was something wrong. NDA – BJP landslide reversed to Mahagathbandhan landslide. So did change points of view of experts. What was true only an hour before, became untrue and new narrative emerged. It appears, no one knows what the voter wants.  

Only person who had stuck his neck out was Surjit Bhalla in Indian Express. Mr. Bhalla had predicted 170 seats for Mahagathbandhan, a day before counting of results based on his understanding of ground level situation. Mr. Bhalla assumed 4% swing may be needed for BJP to win and apparently such a swing was impossible as there was no anti incumbency. This simple calculation in a caste based complicated political arithmatics of state like Bihar poll turned out to be prophetic. I hope such a process is replicated else where. That way complicated exit polls may not be needed. 

My take on election results is as follows: 

Modi has started a narrative of development, a discourse on all of us being an Indian first. Listen to Shazia Ilmi Nd Chiragh Paswan. These people do not want to be identified as a Muslim or a Dalit. They aspire to be an Indian politician /leader. I hope BJP defeat does not mean defeat of this idea of aspirational India, and we are back to caste, community, religion based politics. It would be unfortunate because most political outfits would adopt such a tactic at a time when  youth of India are responding to politics of development. 

I think, PM and BJP should have stuck to message of development even in the face of attempt to polarise electorate. That way, PM could have come out as a statesman convinced of his idea. Instead, PM resorted to cow and reservation politics that too in a very clumsy way. If a non Bihari voter, a sympathiser, can feel uncomfortable sitting in Delhi, less said about people that are going to vote. I also think, PM should have and from now on must speak against loud mouthed morons of his party. If not, BJP may be out of power sooner than we think.

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