One of the key factors experts were looking at in the lead up to the Bihar Assembly elections was the impact that Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party might or might not have. Paswan, who had split from the National Democratic Alliance citing “ideological differences” with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), had put up candidates in 137 of the 243 seats in the fray, including in all 115 where Kumar’s outfit was in contention.
In terms of crude numbers, the Lok Janshakti Party could manage just the solitary seat of Matihani in Begusarai district by a slender margin of 333 votes. In terms of number of seats, the party put up its worst show since its inception in 2000. In terms of percentage of votes, however, it recorded 5.7% votes, as compared to 4.8% in the 2015 elections.
But the party’s more telling impact can be gauged by analysing the seats where the votes cast in its favour might have dented the chances of either the ruling alliance or the Opposition’s Mahagathbandhan. In 64 of the 137 seats it contested, the LJP came third but received more votes than the margin of victory.
Scroll.in analysed the numbers for all the seats where Paswan’s party was contesting to find out if the Lok Janshakti Party’s votes might have had a “spoiler effect” based on these criteria:
- Lok Janshakti Party finished in third spot or below
- The number of votes cast in the party’s favour was greater than the margin of victory on the seat
Heavy dent in JD(U)’s prospects
In as many as 35 seats, the Lok Janshakti Party met the above mentioned criteria, resulting in the loss of National Democratic Alliance candidates. Significantly, in 29 of them, the Janata Dal (United) bore the brunt.
To look at the numbers closer, in 13 of these 29 seats where the JD(U) felt the hit, the margin of loss for Kumar’s party was less than 5,000 votes and the Lok Janshakti Party got more votes than that. The Janata Dal (United) would have most likely benefited in most of these cases had Paswan’s party been with the NDA.
These 13 seats are Alauli, Bajpatti, Barharia, Darbhanga Rural, Dhauraiya, Islampur, Jamalpur, Kargahar, Khagaria, Maharajganj, Matihani, Rajapakar and Samastipur.
Another factor that the chief minister’s party would probably rue is that the Lok Janshakti Party did not hamper the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prospects much. Except in Bhagalpur, where the BJP lost by less than 1,200 votes and Paswan’s party received more than 20,500 votes. This holds significance as the saffron party has now emerged as the senior partner in the alliance for the first time since the BJP and the JD(U) came together.
The Vikassheel Insaan Party and the Hindustani Awam Morcha also faced similar fates in four and one seats, respectively.
Paswan said he believed that the JD(U) had to be “emaciated” and the BJP strengthened, PTI reported. “We never concealed our intentions,” he was quoted as saying by the news agency. “We wanted to make the BJP stronger and its heft has increased unquestionably,” Paswan said.
The LJP leader added that he was happy with the impact his party created in the elections and that he had achieved what he wanted to, according to NDTV.
Paswan asked what the definition of defeat was, when he was asked about his party’s weak performance in the election. “The party has increased its vote share,” he was quoted as saying by the news channel.
Opposition isn’t unharmed either
In 29 seats, the Lok Janshakti Party also ate into the Opposition alliance’s votes. In 17 of these seats, Tejashwi Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal’s losing margin was less than the votes received by Paswan’s outfit. The Congress was the casualty in eight of these seats.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) came third in Matihani, the only seat won by Lok Janshakti Party, but less than 800 votes separated the winning candidate from that of the Left party. The JD(U) came second here.
It might be argued though that these 29 seats where the Opposition was in contention in a three-way fight could have in fact translated to an easier victory for the ruling alliance had there not been a split in the NDA.
However, there were some seats where the margin of loss for the Mahagathbandhan candidates was too marginal, as compared to the votes received by the Lok Janshakti Party.
Besides Matihani, in Barbigha, the Congress lost by 113 votes and Paswan’s candidate got nearly 19,000 votes. Similarly in Hilsa, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s candidate lost by a mere 12 votes, while the Lok Janshakti Party got nearly 17,500 votes.