The election results in Bihar surprised a few people after Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and the BJP combine scored a resounding victory while the Opposition parties suffered major setbacks. I'm not really surprised though the margin of victory was a warm welcome. In one of my earlier blogs “Modi-fication in Voting Dynamics” I had talked about the changing patterns of voting. People want economic development, safety and a better quality of life. The development plank seems to be working across the nation. Earlier, most elections in the so-called “cow belt” used to be won on caste or religion issues. Mandal and Mandir were the two key themes which leaders exploited to get votes. But now the situation has changed completely. Those issues no longer appeal to the people of India, even in the backward regions like Bihar, UP, MP, etc. People have become smarter and they don’t fall for any kind of emotional trap set by the politicians.
Nitish Kumar won in Bihar for the second successive term because he improved governance and law and order in a big way. He also brought about a significant change in terms of development. Bihar’s GDP growth rate, which is around 14-15%, is a commendable turnaround compared to the earlier situation. The fact of the matter is that social life has improved under the Nitish Kumar Government; and the people of Bihar have rewarded him for that. The other interesting thing is that people have dumped leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan because they are tired of their hollow promises. You can’t loot the system brazenly, your children have Bollywood ambitions and on top expect to win. This is one positive fall out of the satellite TV explosion.
Lalu and Paswan rode the Mandal wave successfully. Clearly giving voice to the lower class paid off at that time but people tend to forget Maslow’s hierarchy works not only in real life but also in elections. As per Maslow’s hierarchy, food, shelter and clothing are the basic needs and the Government which addresses these tends to get back in power. We have seen this pattern in other states also where Governments who had shown good performance and tried to make a difference to the common man’s life have been voted back to power. This is the sign of a maturing democracy and will stand India in good stead going forward.
As one of the social scientist Mr. Yogendra Yadav put it very correctly “this is not a vote for Vikas (development) but of Aas (hope)”. The journey of a thousand steps for Nitish Kumar has just began. I only hope that the burden of expectations does not weigh him down. Nor does he let power get into his head. Hopefully, he will remain humble and follow his humility to honor the mandate given by the people of Bihar.
The next five years will be critical for Bihar and he should ensure that the benefits of faster GDP growth reach right up to the people living at the bottom of the pyramid. He will also have to ensure that the growth in Bihar is inclusive and makes a difference to the vast majority of people. The TDP in Andra Pradesh and BJP both would have learnt that India shining slogans will be ignored if inclusive growth does not happen.
Hundreds of thousands of years ago Bihar was the prime state of India and its capital was called Patliputra. The marauding Greek army was defeated by Chandragupta Maurya. Will Bihar once again return to the mainstream and regain some of the old glory?