Why Nitish is elated despite Bihar bypoll debacle?

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar speaks during the International Conference on Crop Residue Management in Patna. (PTI Photo)

The October 24 results for the five Assembly constituencies in Bihar should have worried Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, as the NDA lost four of the five seats in the bypolls.

This kind of drubbing came barely months after the stupendous performance during Lok Sabha elections when the NDA won 39 out of 40 parliamentary seats in the state.

Significantly, the Assembly election in Bihar is due in 2020 and the bypoll for five Assembly seats was touted to be the semi-finals before the main battle next year. But the JD (U) strongman is not worried one bit. Nitish on Friday argued that “history shows that whenever we lost the by-election, we performed exceedingly well in the next Assembly elections.”

He drew an analogy of how the NDA lost 13 out of 18 seats during the 2009 by-elections. Political pundits had predicted a complete rout for the NDA during the 2010 Assembly polls. But the NDA got an unprecedented four-fifths majority, winning more than 80% of the seats in the 243-member House in November 2010.

The BJP as well as JD (U) leaders are happy over the ‘explanation’ given by Nitish on bypoll debacle but deep within, the JD (U) leaders are apprehensive that the bypoll result will be cited during the seat-sharing talks.

“The poor performance of JD (U) in the by-elections, where it lost three out of four seats it contested, will be the moot point during the seat-sharing talks for next year Assembly elections. Citing the result, the BJP could drive a hard bargain with Nitish for a 50:50 formula,” opined an NDA leader, refusing to be identified.

Though the BJP made it clear that there will be no demand for change in the leadership (as BJP chief Amit Shah has already announced to contest the ensuing polls under the leadership of Nitish), but, sources said, “the saffron camp now definitely has an upper hand after the bypoll debacle.”

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