ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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NDA’s Big Victory in Bihar

The National Democratic Alliance registered its best ever performance in Bihar in the Lok Sabha elections 2019. Not only did it win all but one seat, but it won mostly with huge margins. Two reasons stand out for the performance of the NDA: its reconstitution to include Janata Dal (United) and the high level of trust in the leadership of Narendra Modi. With assembly elections in the next year, it remains to be seen if and how the opposition alliance will be able to recuperate from its defeat.

Since the 1990s, electoral politics in Bihar has been dominated by state-level parties, and there has been intense political mobilisation of the socially, economically and politically marginalised groups, along with their ascendancy in power (Jafferlot 2003; Yadav 1999). The rise of state-level parties, namely the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Janata Dal (United) (JD[U]), powered by social engineering and popular leadership, forced the national partiesthe Indian National Congress (INC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)to play second fiddle (Alam 2009). While the RJD (earlier the Janata Dal) rose to prominence and eventually came to power on the plank of anti-Congressism, it did not desist from seeking support from the latter when required.1 As the support base of RJD began to shrink, it aligned with the Congress to take on the rival political formations. Though asymmetric (as the RJD remained the pivot), nevertheless the alliance of these two parties was durable.

The decline of the RJD gave way to the rise of yet another political formationthe Samta Party (later rechristened as JD[U]) and another leaderNitish Kumar, who was also at the forefront of the social justice movement and political mobilisation of backward castes in late 1980s and early 1990s. The Samta Party led by Nitish Kumar aligned with the BJP and eventually came to power in 2005, even when the two parties were ideologically poles apart. In this alternative alliance called National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the status of the BJP was more or less the same as the Congress in the rival alliance led by the RJD (Kumar et al 2008). Until 2013, the two parties shared power and Nitish Kumar remained the undisputed leader of the alliance.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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