Bihar elections 2020: Winners and losers

V Nivedita | Updated on November 12, 2020

The 2020 elections in Bihar had a thrilling finish. The exit polls gave a clear lead to the Opposition’s Mahagathbandhan alliance over the Nitish Kumar-BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. The exit polls predicted that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar faced strong anti-incumbency and RJD’s Tejaswi Yadav could reap the benefits. Now, we know that the race was much closer than it was anticipated and that the ruling NDA has managed to make a comeback.

With 125 seats in total, the NDA crossed the halfway mark of the 243-seat assembly, and is all set to retain power in the State.

Like every election, this one too had its winners and losers. Here’s a look.

The winners

BJP: India’s largest party is the biggest winner. It carried the NDA and has won an impressive 74 seats. The party has shown its might and that the ‘Modi magic’ is still at play. After a string of defeats in 2019, many critics believed that the party was on a decline, at least when it came to State elections. However, this election has demolished that image.

The BJP has done well despite the on-going coronavirus pandemic, anti-incumbency, and high levels of unemployment in the State. This election result could also show the way ahead for the party – grow at the grassroot level and depend less on allies.

It has also swept the by-polls in key States, displaying its might once again. In Madhya Pradesh, it won 19 seats. In Manipur it won four seats, and in Gujarat it won all eight seats. In Uttar Pradesh, the party won six of the seven seats. The situation is similar in Karnataka too. By sweeping the by-polls in States it is in power (Gujarat, MP, UP, Karnataka, Manipur), the BJP is cementing its position as the party to beat.

Tejaswi Yadav: Though the RJD lost some seats compared to the 2015 Assembly election (RJD contested in 101 seats and won 80), the young political leader can be placed in the winner column. This is because he carried not only his party, but also the Opposition, to a decent finish.

The RJD had the most vote share at 23.1 per cent, while the BJP’s was 19.5 per cent. It is the single largest party, with 75 seats (contested 144 seats). The BJP, with 74 seats, was a close second.

Yadav, in his campaign, had spoken predominantly of issues like unemployment and had promised to provide 10 lakh new governmental jobs, if elected to power. This is a marked shift from other elections which were fought on caste arithmetic and issues like ‘Bihari versus Bahari’, like in the 2015 State election.

The Left and AIMIM: The surprise winners are the Left parties that had allied with the RJD. The CPI-ML clinched 12 seats, followed by the CPI and CPI-M (two each).

Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM party outperformed expectations and has won five seats. However, critics have said that the party destroyed the Mahagathbandhan’s chances by dividing the Muslim vote, a charge he has denied vehemently.

The losers

Nitish Kumar: It is now for certain that Nitish Kumar will return to power for a historic fourth term. Even though he has secured himself another term as the CM, the results, have been bad for his party.

After leaving the NDA fold, and joining the RJD-Congress alliance for the 2015, JDU won 71 seats (contested in 101 seats). But then in 2017, he had to return to the NDA after that alliance proved to be unsustainable. From then, the party has been on a weak footing. This time, it has won just 43 seats (115 contested). This slide will put the party and the CM on the backfoot as its alliance partner will have a greater say in the functioning of the government. The JD(U) -- and Nitish Kumar -- will have to please the BJP to remain in power.

Chirag Paswan: A calculated move by the LJP leader did not bear fruit. Chirag Paswan took charge of the party after his father, veteran leader Ram Vilas Paswan, died in October. He took the decision of leaving the NDA for the election. He openly criticised Nitish Kumar and contested against the JD(U).

If things had gone according to his plan, the electorate would have voted for LJP candidates at the expense of the JD(U). Thus, the NDA would have needed him to form the government and he would have become the kingmaker. A part of his plan worked. The party did cut votes from the JD(U), but it helped the Opposition parties more than it helped the LJP. The party won just 1 seat.

Congress: In Bihar, it won only 19 of the 70 seats. It also lost all eight seats to BJP in Gujarat. In MP, the party won nine seats and is yet to recover from the loss of Jyotiraditya Scindia-- who left the party and joined the BJP in March. However, it is not all bad news for the party. They won a seat each in Chhattisgarh and Haryana. In Jharkhand, it won a seat and alliance partner JMM won the other seat which went to polls.

Published on November 12, 2020

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