Why Bihar Matters, To India And PM Modi: BQ Explains
Only three Indian states send more members to the Lok Sabha than Bihar. The Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies notched up wins in more than 75 percent of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats in the last general election in 2014.
That run rate in Bihar, the 90 percent success rate in Uttar Pradesh’s 80 seats, and the clean sweep in its traditional strongholds of central and northwest India gave the BJP its record tally that year.
Bihar was the one big state where the BJP lost momentum after 2014. Following the November 2015 Bihar assembly election results, the party found itself sitting in the opposition benches. Until Thursday. When the Nitish Kumar - Lalu Prasad alliance ended, it took down with it one of the largest blocs of anti-BJP state legislators anywhere in India.
BJP’s Pan-India Presence
Other than Arvind Kejriwal’s win in the city-state of Delhi and Amarinder Singh’s recent victory in Punjab, Nitish Kumar’s humbling of the BJP in the October-November 2015 Bihar assembly elections was the only big electoral setback that the Narendra Modi - Amit Shah duo has suffered in the last three years.
The National Democratic Alliance was in power in six states when Modi was elected prime minister in 2014. It is now in power in 17 states across all regions.
In four of the last five Lok Sabha elections, success in Bihar has translated into power in Delhi.
Bihar: By The Numbers
India’s 13th largest state by size, Bihar is also its third most populous. The urgent priority is to accelerate development in the state and that’s no small task.
And most of them live in rural areas.
The average Bihari is younger than his fellow citizens elsewhere in India. For the ‘demographic divided’ to pay off, the state needs to rise from the bottom rank it occupies in education and income levels.
Also Read: Unravelling The Nitish Kumar Myth
Over the course of Nitish Kumar’s 11 years as chief minister, income levels in Bihar have risen significantly, but continue to lag the national average by a large margin.
As pointed out in recent articles by BloombergQuint columnist Praveen Chakravarty, the gap between Bihar and India’s developed states – on most socio-economic parameters – is widening, when governments in the state and the Centre would want it to narrow.