Twin anti-incumbency could be NDA's Achilles heel in Bihar polls

Amitabh Tiwari
·4-min read

As Bihar votes for Phase 2, it is clearly emerging that anti-incumbency is the theme of these elections. 15 years in power with even a good track record can't wish away normal and natural voter fatigue.

While the NDA has been rattled by the crowds in Tejashwi’s rallies, whether it will convert into votes or not is a big question?

Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rallies drew cheering crowds in 2015, but to no avail as MGB handed a crushing defeat to BJP.

What is double or twin anti-incumbency?

Anti-incumbency, simply refers to vote exercised against the elected officials in power, as per Logical Indian.

Twin or double anti-incumbency refers to a situation when people are angry not only with the leader/chief minister, but also with the local MLA due to unfulfilled promises.

Opinion polls have clearly shown people are dissatisfied with Nitish Kumar government’s performance. His popularity ratings (who is best suited to be CM) has fallen by 10 percentage points since 2015. In the Lokniti-CSDS survey 34% voters (highest) want a new leader. BJP voters impatiently want it to take reins of the government in Bihar while Chirag Paswan has openly announced that BJP-LJP will form government in the state.

NDA has been in power for almost 15 years, sans a brief period in between 2013-17, when Nitish and his protege, Jiten Ram Manjhi continued to be CM. All the wins, in 2005, 2010 and 2015 were big wins. This means that there are a large number of BJP and JDU MLAs in their 2nd or 3rd term, who have been in power for 10-15 years. This is a long enough tenor to develop anti-incumbency.

75 percent of JDU MLAs and around 50 percent of BJP MLAs are in their 2nd or 3rd term. On the other hand, 16% of RJD MLAs and 41% of INC MLAs are in their 2nd or 3rd term.

What is BJP’s strategy to negate this anti-incumbency?

BJP has by propping up Chirag sent a message that it is working behind the scenes to eaken Nitish. It has sent a signal to its vote base that BJP may install its own CM after the elections, as JDU is expected to get a lesser number of seats than BJP. Though, officially, it has maintained that Nitish will be CM irrespective of results.

The Modi-Shah duo have been employing a unique strategy to negate local anti-incumbency against the MLAs / MPs. They have been replacing a good number of MLAs every election in Gujarat. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP denied tickets to 98 out of 267 sitting MPs, roughly 37%.

However, in Bihar, the denial ratio, number of MLAs who have been denied tickets is only 23% from NDA side. Out of 125 sitting MPS, NDA has denied tickets to only 29 MLAs.Out of these 10 belong to BJP and 19 belong to JDU. 18 of these 29 MLAS (62%) were in their 2nd or 3rd term.

On the other hand, MGB which has 110 sitting MLAs has denied tickets to 49 MLAs. 40 of them belong to RJD and 9 of them belong to INC. 12 of them were in their 2nd or 3rd term. In effect MGB has denied tickets to 45% of its sitting MLAs which is twice the denial rate of NDA.

Many of the MLAs of RJD and INC may not have been able to perform as the government in power was of NDA. We hear the stories of partiality in development projects in constituencies of opposition MLAs. To negate this, Tejashwi has craftly denied many of these MLAs, against whom anger might be brewing. This could also be the result of surveys carried out by MGB. Non performing MLAs have been dropped.


We have seen how in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh many sitting MLAs who were not removed and many ministers who were retained lost big time. In MP 13 out of 35 ministers lost elections while in Chhattisgarh, 8 out of 13 ministers lost.

NDA has given tickets to 58 sitting MLAs who are contesting for 3rd or 4th consecutive term.

In an era of vote for anti-incumbency when only 7 out of 27 state governments have retained power since the 2014 lok sabha elections, (north eastern states excluded from this analysis), double anti-incumbency could prove to be NDA’s Achilles heels.

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