A day after the debacle in Bihar Assembly polls, BJP’s top decision-making body — the Parliamentary Board– met to take the stock of its big defeat. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah along with other top leaders held the meeting at the party headquarters in New Delhi. In a close and bitterly contested election, BJP was humbled with just 53 seats in 243 member assembly. On the other hand, JD(U)-RJD-Congress Nitish Kumar-led ‘Grand Alliance’ won a near 3/4th majority with 178 seats.
The party, which is ruling at the Centre with a comfortable majority of 283 MPs on its own, the scale of defeat in Bihar has come as a surprise.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BJP alliance had won 31 out of 40 seats from Bihar. However, in Assembly polls, it wasn’t just the BJP, its allies – Union minister Ramvilas Paswan’s LJP, Bihar’s ex-CM’s HAM and RLSP – performed way below par returning with just 5 seats.
Briefing the press after the meeting, Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley admitted that BJP-led NDA’s assessment that ‘Grand Alliance’ constituents will not be able to transfer their votes to each other was “incorrect”.
Bihar Assembly polls had its own share of controversies amid the high-octane campaigning. BJP president Amit Shah was sent a notice by the Election Commission on his comments where he had allegedly said “firecrackers will go off in Pakistan” if BJP was defeated in the polls, whereas RJD and JD(U) targeted the BJP over RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s purported remarks where he sought for the review of reservation quota system.
However, Arun Jaitley rejected the suggestion that controversy generated after Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks dented BJP’s performance in the polls.
According to reports, already some Bihar leaders, including Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav and Ashwini Choubey, have said that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s quota comments cost the party while there is also a feeling in a section the decision of not projecting a chief ministerial face gave Nitish Kumar an advantage. While, some BJP leaders felt that the “social combination” of the winning grand alliance could have caused NDA’s defeat.
Accepting defeat in Bihar, senior BJP leader and former deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi had on Sunday said that “People have given a clear mandate to the grand alliance. It is good that there is no fractured mandate…. We respect the mandate of the people and bow before it.”
Meanwhile, early on Monday, Amit Shah held a meeting with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, where the BJP chief is believed to have discussed Bihar results among other things. Party sources, however, dismissed the reports that Shah’s meeting with Bhagwat was to take the stock of defeat in Bihar.
They claimed that it was customary for top leaders to meet the RSS chief whenever he spends time in the national capital.
(With inputs from the Agencies)