PATNA: Known for its folk art, rich history and annual flood havoc, the regions of Tirhut and Mithilanchal propelled the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to a narrow victory over its rival, the Opposition Grand Alliance, in the just concluded assembly elections in Bihar.
These two regions — spread across the northern and northwestern parts of the state — went to the polls in the second and third phases of the three-phase assembly elections and helped the NDA offset the losses it suffered in the first phase of the election on October 28, showed data from the Election Commission.
The NDA was composed of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal (United), Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) and Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular (HAM-S). The GA was made of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress and three Left parties.
Overall, the NDA won 29% of the 71 seats in the first phase, 52% of the 94 seats in the second phase and 66,7% of the 78 seats in the third phase, showed an HT analysis.
In the Tirhut region — which borders Nepal and comprises the districts of East and West Champaran, Sitamarhi, Muzaffarpur and Vaishali — the NDA won as many as 32 out of the 49 assembly seats. The BJP won 25 and the JD(U) won five.
The GA managed to wrest only 17 seats, of which the RJD won 14 seats, and the Congress won three. The poor performance came despite GA chief ministerial candidate Tejashwi Yadav winning handily from Raghopur in Vaishali, and his elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav, securing the Hasanpur seat in Sitamarhi.
In the Mithilanchal region, where the majority of the population is Maithili speaking, highly educated but poor, and which frequently confronts flood damage, the GA’s performance was even worse.
Candidates from the NDA defeated the GA nominees in 26 out of the 37 constituencies. The RJD claimed success on 10 seats and the Congress drew a blank. Stalwarts of the Opposition such as Abdul Bari Siddiqui, Faraz Fatmi, Kripanath Pathak and Bhavna Jha were defeated.
The region, comprising Darbhanga, Madhubani, Samastipur, Barauni, Begusarai, and Rosera, is also home to a large number of Brahmins, who traditionally back the BJP, and Extremely Backward Classes, a clutch of smaller backward communities nurtured by Nitish Kumar over the past 15 years.
Former director of AN Sinha institute of social studies DM Diwakar said the BJP managed to tilt the election in its favour in Mithilanchal and north Bihar by galvanising its grassroots level cadre to polarise voters .
“Till the first phase of polling, which catapulted the GA in lead, electors were divided and a majority of upper castes were planning to give the GA a chance over shirking jobs and sufferings for the migrants. But, a sustained campaign launched by the BJP cadres changed the scenario days before the polls,” said Diwakar.
A third factor that went in favour of the NDA was its unexpectedly superior performance in the Kosi-Seemanchal region, which went to the polls in the third phase on November 7.
This area — with a large population of minority communities in the districts of Supaul, Madhepura, Saharsa Kishanganj, Purnia, Katihar and Araria that also deal with the havoc of floods and annual displacement of millions of people — the GA suffered a major loss.
The NDA won 22 out of the 37 seats in the region. The RJD put up its worst performance in this region by winning only four seats, against nine in 2015. The Congress was restricted to five seats. The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen clinched victory on five seats.
In contrast, the GA did well in the Magadh and Shahbad-Bhojpur regions, which went to the polls in the first phase and are traditionally affected by Left-wing extremism and caste violence.
The NDA won only 18 out of 49 seats in Magadh and two out of 19 in Shahabad region. The GA won 31 and 19, respectively.