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Negative vote swing of 0.87pc cost Lalu power

Source: PTI
November 23, 2005 15:38 IST
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A negative swing of less than one per cent votes against it cost the Rashtriya Janata Dal-led Secular Democratic Front dear, while a positive swing of 9.68 per cent catapulted the National Democratic Alliance to power in the politically volatile state of Bihar.

The Nitish Kumar-led NDA, fighting Bihar's second assembly poll this year, made the state's backwardness and alleged 'abysmal' law and order its main electoral plank, and reaped a rich electoral harvest of 142 seats in the 243-member state assembly, as anti-incumbency and a division in secular votes took their toll on the SDF.

The RJD's attempt to reclaim the state after a 15-year unbroken stint in power came to an end in February this year as the polls threw up a hung assembly in which it emerged as the single largest party; all because a negative swing of 0.87 per cent cost it 20 seats. The RJD, which had secured 25.4 per cent votes in February, polled 24.17 per cent votes this time.

Complete coverage: Bihar votes

For the SDF constituents -- the RJD, Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and the Communist Party of India-Marxists -- who polled 31.08 per cent of the votes, just 0.95 per cent less than what they got in February, it meant a loss of 29 seats, the tally coming down from 89 to 65.

Barring the RJD, only the NCP had a negative swing of 0.36 per cent, which reduced its tally from three to one.

Though the Congress' vote share went up by 0.53 per cent, its seats came down from 10 to nine, while the CPI-M polled 0.75 per cent votes, 0.11 per cent more than the last time, but without any difference to its tally which remained at one.

Neither proud nor afraid: Nitish Kumar

For the NDA, which had a positive swing of 9.68 per cent -- 5.26 per cent for the JD-U and 4.42 per cent for the BJP -- over the last polls, it meant a lot of difference as it enabled the alliance to wrest Bihar with 142 seats, 20 more than the half-way mark in the assembly and 50 more than last time.

While the JD-U's vote share went up from 14.59 per cent in February to 19.85 per cent, for the BJP it shot up from 10.96 per cent to 15.38 per cent.

Apart from the RJD, Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party, which squandered the opportunity to become the kingmaker after the fractured February verdict, was a major loser both in terms of seats and share of votes.

While the LJP's vote share came down marginally by 1.53 per cent, from 12.58 per cent in February to 11.5 per cent this time, it meant a loss of 18 seats.

Its ally the CPI had a positive swing of 0.69 per cent, which raised its share of votes from 1.58 per cent to 2.27 per cent, but that did not result in any increase in its tally which remained at three.

The rise and fall of Lalu Yadav

Independents were another major losers both in terms of seats and vote share.

Their seats came down by seven, from 17 to ten, and their voting percentage plunged from 16.16 per cent in February to 8.17 per cent this time, a negative swing of a whopping 7.99 per cent.

The CPI-Marxist-Leninist's seats came down from seven to five as its vote share saw a marginal downturn of 0.21 per cent, from 2.5 per cent to 2.29 per cent.

The Bahujan Samaj Party's tally doubled from two to four despite a marginal decrease of 0.08 per cent of votes, from 4.42 per cent to 4.34 per cent. However, a negative shift of 0.26 per cent saw its Uttar Pradesh rival Samajwadi Party's seats slashed by half, from four in February to two this time.

The NDA apparently gained from the RJD and LJP's loss, as also the independents'.

The man who brought Lalu down

The February elections saw the RJD emerge as the single largest party despite major reverses, largely due to the split in the anti-Lalu votes which also went to the LJP and independents.

Paswan's ploughing a separate furrow with the CPI and other Left parties like the RSP and Forward Bloc, which have only a symbolic presence in Bihar, also did no good to the SDF, as it prevented a consolidation of secular votes.

The NDA, exploiting to the hilt the general feeling that it was a victim of the machinations of RJD boss Lalu Prasad and the Congress, who got the 13th assembly dissolved only to prevent the formation of its government, not only vastly improved upon its past performance in practically all regions of the state, but also bested the SDF everywhere.

In the Mithila region that has 54 seats, the RJD-led alliance secured 19 seats the last time and the NDA 18, but this time the NDA pocketed 28 seats while the SDF had to remain content with only 18.

In Saran division that has 24 seats, the two sides were evenly matched with seven seats each in February, but the RJD got only six seats this time, while the NDA bagged 15.

In the Tirhut division with 49 seats, the RJD-led alliance had secured 16 seats in February and the NDA 21, but the SDF this time could win only 13 while the NDA won 30.

Even in the 'Seemanchal' area close to the West Bengal border which has a significant Muslim population, the NDA won nine seats against the SDF's seven. The RJD-led alliance had won 11 seats in the region in the last election and the NDA only four.

The Bhagalpur division which has 12 seats returned eight NDA candidates against the SDF's four. The RJD-led alliance had won seven seats in the area in February and the NDA just four.

The NDA which lagged behind the RJD and its allies in Munger division with just four seats against its opponents' seven, won 12 seats this time, nine more than the SDF.

The RJD was a major loser in Patna division which has 43 seats even in the February polls when it got just 11 seats, while its allies failed to even open their account, and the NDA secured 26 seats. The RJD's performance was dismal even this time, with just six seats in its kitty against the NDA's 29.

In the Magadh division having 26 seats, where the RJD had bagged 12 seats against the NDA's five in February, the NDA was ahead with 12 seats against the SDF's nine.

However, despite losing Bihar over which it had a grip for 15 long years, the RJD can draw consolation from the fact that there was no major downslide in its support base, with just 0.87 per cent of its voters choosing to act differently.

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