The entire top brass of the Bharatiya Janata Party is huddled today at the party headquarters in the national capital to take stock of the defeat in the Bihar Assembly elections. Grim-faced leaders including Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari and Rajnath Singh were present at the parliamentary board meeting chaired by party president Amit Shah, called not only to discuss what went wrong but also the voices within the party raised in dissent after the polls.
The Bihar elections saw the return of Nitish Kumar leading an alliance of his party of Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal despite a charged BJP campaign led by Modi over the last few months.
Many senior leaders have already met Shah at his residence. The NDA won a dismal 58 seats, with the BJP bagging 53 seats. LJP and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) won two seats each and HindustAwam Morcha (HAM, Secular) secured one seat in the 243-seat Bihar assembly.
The Mahagathbandhan scored a landslide with 178 of the 243 seats, with Kumar's JD(U) winning 71 seats. Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD emerged as the single largest party with 80 seats.
A day after the election results, the cracks are already showing. The low rumbling of dissent has started and in an act that is being seen as openly defiant, party leader and actor Shatrughan Sinha met Kumar at his residence today to wish him on his grand victory.
Sinha, who had been sidelined by the BJP during the campaigning, dismissed the meeting as old friends catching up for a chat. But this might not sit very well with the top leadership. A BJP MP lashed out at him for hobnobbing with a rival so soon after a stinging loss.
"What is the base of Shatrughan Sinha? In spite of his objection, the Bharatiya Janata Party won all the seats in his constituency. It is different if he considers himself 'sikandar'," BJP MP Hukumdev Yadav told ANI.
BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha meets Nitish Kumar at latter's residence in Patna. pic.twitter.com/YHMqd2phmF— ANI (@ANI_news) November 9, 2015
BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha leaves to meet Nitish Kumar at his residence in Patna pic.twitter.com/jesRbHKvic— ANI (@ANI_news) November 9, 2015
"Due to indiscipline he has always said these kinds of things and it has been his habit. He is a creature of his habits. The Bharatiya Janata Party did not have even zero loss due to Shatrughan Sinha," he added.
Sinha was critical of his party as the results poured in.
"You removed deserving people. You kept 'Bihari Babu' away from Bihar, even as he had predicted the writings on the wall," Sinha said yesterday. Former home secretary and BJP's Arrah MP RK Singh had earlier criticised his party's unit in Bihar for denying tickets to right candidates in the polls.
"Popular sitting MLAs are denied tickets and criminals are being given the tickets. No wonder party workers are enraged in Bihar," Singh had said.
Senior leader Naidu attributed the party's loss to "social arithmetic".
"People of Bihar want development... they have given the mandate to Nitish Kumar ji and his coalition. For development, there has to be rapid economic growth, flow of investments into different sectors like infrastructure, power, irrigation, heath and education.
You need to put in the right environment in place and this requires carefully considered reforms. To interpret Bihar in any other manner will be questioning the wisdom of the people of Bihar," Naidu said.
Naidu, who was attending a Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) meeting, said it was wrong to call the Bihar mandate the country's mood, as the election was only held for one state. "We respect the verdict of Bihar people, we will do detailed analysis of the outcome. But it should not be used to obstruct the upcoming session of the Parliament," he said.
"Everyone thinks BJP can't overrule the Sangh, so even after clarification by PM on the reservation remark, people didn't believe the party," Yadav told TV channels. "There were many reasons for our loss in Bihar but Bhagwat ji's reservation remark is the biggest reason," he said.
Shah met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat today in Delhi.
Meanwhile, BJP's controversial leader Kailash Vijayvargiya has once again shot off his mouth and referenced a dog while describing Sinha's meeting with Kumar. Listen to his quote.
BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya on Shatrughan Sinha. pic.twitter.com/26apMh68wq— ANI (@ANI_news) November 9, 2015
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