New Delhi: Bihar has awarded the performer. And punished negativity and needless aggression. This is the dominant feeling of most political analysts and voters from the state.
The stunning victory of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Grand Alliance is widely viewed as a vote for his good governance, his innately soft nature and the “social engineering” he achieved with friend-turned-foe-turned-ally Lalu Prasad.
In the process, Nitish Kumar, the much-maligned Lalu Prasad and their third ally, the Congress, pulled off a dramatic win in assembly elections to deliver Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah their second major defeat since the February rout in Delhi.
The BJP failed in Bihar as there was no substantial anti-incumbency against Nitish Kumar. But the BJP attempted its best to tarnish his image mouthing fears of “jungle raj” if he took power with Lalu Prasad.
Joining hands with Lalu Prasad was obviously a risky decision but Nitish Kumar went ahead calculating that the caste combinations it would bring about would deliver the results. It did.
A journey across Bihar during the bitterly contested election campaign showed that voters were divided on caste lines but united on one point: that Nitish Kumar had done a lot to develop the state.
"The work done by Nitish is evident on the ground. But what has our prime minister done other than blabber and visit foreign countries?" asked Amardeep Yadav of Bihar who lives in Delhi.
It is an opinion widely shared by many from the state.
Many also felt that the personal attacks mounted on the soft-spoken Nitish Kumar by Modi and Shah backfired.
Nitish Kumar used all the jibes directed at him to remind voters about Bihari pride -- just the way Modi used to do during his tenure as Gujarat chief minister.
And while Modi was aggressive, Nitish Kumar retained his poise. He never lost control of his temper, even while facing the most personal attacks.
Many voters both during the campaign and after the results came out on Sunday made it clear that they did not approve of the language and style of the prime minister.
And while the BJP took care to distribute ticket on caste lines, it upset its own cart when RSS chief Mohan Bhagawat expressed his misgivings about job quotas.
The BJP’s brazen attempts to polarise voters on religious lines -- on beef consumption and how celebrations would take place in Pakistan if the BJP lost -- didn’t go well the electorate.
"Bihar has given an answer to Modiji. Bihar has shown its traditions and chosen the right person,” Suraj Yadav of Delhi University told IANS.
"We too wanted the BJP to win but not at the cost of our integrity and honour as Biharis,” he added. “The BJP leadership humiliated not only the people of Bihar but its Bihari cadres too.”
Academic Yogesh Chourasia said that Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar used the BJP’s propaganda tricks as a weapon against the BJP.
"Only regional forces will get strengthened after this verdict. But I don’t see any of them emerging as a national force,” said Sri Prakash Singh, a political science professor of Delhi University.
"The Grand Alliance won because Lalu's base of MY (Muslim-Yadav) worked, and it got the leadership of Nitish,” he added.