Stating that caste has taken a backseat in electoral politics, Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar on Wednesday said developmental politics, not caste dynamics, would determine Bihar's course in the future.
“It is a victory won by the people of Bihar, and not of any single person, party or alliance,” Mr. Kumar told journalists at his residence during the course of the counting process for the State Assembly polls.
The NDA alliance won a landslide victory securing 206 Assembly seats, with both the JD(U) and the Bharatiya Janata Party bettering their performances in the October 2005 Assembly polls by bagging 115 and 91 seats respectively.
Stating that “governance governs everything,” Mr. Kumar said the public's verdict had proved that the legislator who delivered on the ground secured votes.
Drastic voter surge
Noting the drastic voter surge in the elections, Mr. Kumar lauded the tremendous response given by women voters and those from the backward sections of society, while attributing the increase to the improved law and order situation brought about by the present NDA government.
He said the public had come to realise the value of its vote, as elections in the past were beset by voter apathy and booth-capturing incidents.
Mr. Kumar said he was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming mandate given by the people, adding: “This only increases our responsibilities which we will conscientiously attempt to undertake.” Stating that he did not have “a magic wand,” he said he would work harder during the coming period to ensure that Bihar was a developed state by 2015.
Responding to questions on the future of the JD(U)-BJP alliance, Mr. Kumar brushed aside any speculation of a possible rupture.
“Our ties with the BJP are old. In 2005, we fought the polls together and had secured a solid mandate,” he said. “When the work is good on the ground, both parties equally stand to gain.”
On the Congress campaign in Bihar during the polls, he said the self-esteem of the State's public had been hurt with the Congress dubbing the Central aid given to Bihar as “their party's money.”
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) combine, meanwhile, managed to secure barely 25 seats. RJD chief Lalu Prasad's wife and Leader of the Opposition in the Bihar Assembly, Rabri Devi, was trounced from the Raghopur and Sonepur Assembly seats by a huge margin of more than 10,000 votes in each.
“The NDA landslide is a mystery, one which merits an inquiry,” Mr. Prasad said, even as he congratulated Mr. Kumar for his victory, but refused to extend his wishes to the BJP.
Swearing in on Saturday
The newly-elected JD(U) and BJP legislators will hold independent party meetings on Thursday, which will be followed by a joint party meeting later in the day. The swearing-in of the new government will take place on November 27.