Why Tejashwi couldn’t perform in Lok Sabha elections as was expected of him?

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By Sami Ahmad

PATNA—Tejashwi Yadav, son of Lalu Prasad and former deputy chief minister addressed more than two hundred election rallies even while he was physically unfit and there was a lot of expectation from him. But after the result of Lok Sabha, many believe that he has underachieved by winning just nine seats for the INDIA bloc.

It was due to Tejashwi’s tireless effort that made NDA lose nine seats in this election. NDA had won 39 out of 40 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. This time it has won 30 seats. The BJP lost five seats and the JD(U) lost four seats. Both won 12 seats each. Apart from this, the INDIA bloc ensured the defeat of prominent Koeri leader Upendra Kushwaha, who is the chief of Rashtriya Lok Morcha.

Thirty-four-year-old Tejashwi kept his focus on employment and jobs. He tried his best to avoid controversies and always referred to Nitish Kumar as ‘chaha’. He was the biggest face and crowd-puller of the INDIA bloc. One may be inclined to say that he could not perform to the expected level but it should also be kept in mind that he was up against big leaders like PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Nitish Kumar.

Rahul Gandhi came to Bihar just twice to address the election rallies.

Out of the nine seats INDIA bloc won, four went to Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) while it fought on 23 seats.

Indian National Congress (INC) won three seats and lost six. CPI-ML fought from three seats and won two. Both CPI and CPI (M) fought one seat each but they could not win.

The most disappointing part came from the VIP (Vikas-sheel Insan Party) of Mukesh Sahani, belonging to the fisheries community. VIP lost all three it fought.

Though it is true that Lalu’s RJD could win only four seats but its vote share is the best at 22.49% in the state. Similarly, the vote share of Congress increased to 9.2% from last time’s 7.85%.

There is a loss of nine percent vote for NDA compared to the 2019 election. BJP could fetch 20.15%, down from 24.05% in the 2019 Loksabha election while the number of seats it fought remained the same at 17. JD(U)’s vote share also went down to 18.52% from last time’s 22-26%.

So, the question why Tejashwi could not do what Akhilesh Yadav did in alliance with Congress in UP? Nitish Kumar seems to be the most important reason in Tejashwi’s case. Nitish Kumar was the main organizer of INDIA who left at the nick of time and that affected the future plan of the opposition in Bihar. It must have been too big a shock to recover from. There was very little time for that.

Though INDIA bloc was still struggling to come out of this shock, the late decision of seat-sharing, too, did not help INDIA. In fact, Nitish had cited the delay in the seat sharing accord as one of the reasons to quit INDIA.

Intriguingly Lalu Prasad started distributing election symbols to some of his party candidates without proper announcement of seat-sharing formula. This had sent an unfavourable message at the beginning of the election.

Apart from the delay in announcing the seat-sharing formula, there was complaints of delay in announcing the names of candidates. In fact, many candidates got their names cleared after the start of the election. This happened to the candidates of RJD, Congress and the VIP. The VIP was a very late entrant to the INDIA block.

The selection of candidates was also mired in controversy. For example, the Congress candidate from Muzaffarpur was the outgoing BJP MP Ajay Nishad. Ajay Nishad had just joined Congress after he was denied ticket from BJP. Ajay Nishad was opposed by the Muslim community as he had issued anti-Muslim statement during the Covid-19, particularly against Tablighi Jamat. Another Congress candidate Akash Singh, from Maharajganj, was accused of openly supporting CAA. Some candidates had RSS background. This made the Muslim community wary of them and that affected their enthusiasm to vote for INDIA.

The case of don turned-politician and former MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav also made the INDIA supporters somewhat disappointed. Pappu had announced to merge his Jan Adhikar Party with Congress in the hope to get a ticket from Congress for Purnea seat. But Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi were not ready for this. RJD fielded Bima Bharti from Purnia who had joined it after dumping Nitish Kumar’s JD(U). Lalu made it a prestige issue and opposed Papppu Yadav. This proved a very wrong decision as Pappu Yadav won and Bima Bharti finished third.

The issue of Hena Shahab, the wife of late ex-MP Mohammad Shahabuddin also hampered the prospect of RJD. Hena Shahab accused RJD of not giving her and her late husband due respect and refused to fight on the RJD ticket. Hena fought as an independent candidate and came second while RJD’s official candidate Awadh Bihari Chaudhary finished third. This affected RJD’s prospect in adjoining Saran seat also where Lalu’s second daughter Rohini Acharya lost by just over ten thousand votes.

Though Tejashwi coined BAAP ki party instead of MY party for RJD but seems that he could not get thedesired support from the EBC (Extremely Backward Class, considered to be Nitish Kumar’s stronghold). ByBAAP Tejashwi meant Bahujan, Alpsankhyak (Minority), Aadhi abadi (women, another bastion of Nitish Kumar) and the poor. Though the INDIA bloc got support from BAAP but seemingly it could not break the caste barrier. There are also reports that the Y of MY, that is Yadav, voters did not vote for non-Yadav INDIA candidates at some places.

Political observers say that Tejashwi might not have succeeded the way it was expected but his efforts will help him in the coming Assembly election.

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