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Personal defeat for Modi

Personal defeat for Modi
Highlights

The Bihar poll outcome has come as a big disappointment for the BJP. Analysts said the results were without doubt a personal defeat for Narendra Modi, who staked a lot in the campaign, was its most visible face and addressed more rallies than any other prime minister in a State election.

The Bihar poll outcome has come as a big disappointment for the BJP. Analysts said the results were without doubt a personal defeat for Narendra Modi, who staked a lot in the campaign, was its most visible face and addressed more rallies than any other prime minister in a State election.

Modi met leaders of his party on Monday to discuss whether to overhaul policies and priorities in the wake of the humiliating defeat in Bihar. Modi and a dozen senior colleagues of his party, including its president Amit Shah, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, gathered at the party's offices to analyse the reasons for the defeat. "There are lessons to be learnt," Jaitley told reporters after the meeting.

Sunday's loss in Bihar is the most significant setback for Modi since he won a crushing victory in a general election last year. For the first time since he came to power, party leaders are openly starting to question the direction of the government.

The Bihar loss may hamper Modi's reform agenda because he needs to win most State elections in the next three years to gain full control of parliament. India's States are represented in the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP lacks a majority.

The BJP, which announced ‘development’ as its main plank, kept changing its election pitch apparently realising that the Grand Alliance of JD (U)-RJD and Congress was putting up a well-knit cohesive fight and giving it a run for its money.

In came acute sarcasm on remarks of RJD leader Lalu Prasad on beef eating. In the fifth and last phase, the BJP inserted advertisements in local dailies about Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's silence on remarks on beef eating in an apparent effort at polarisation. In a damning indictment of the party’s campaign at what was seen as "communal polarisation", the Election Commission had to step in to stop release of more such advertisements.

Some of Modi's remarks were seen as aimed at evoking loyalties of caste and community. He talked of Lalu Prasad not honouring tradition of Yaduvanshis and accused the Grand Alliance leaders of attempts to give away part of reservation quota on religious lines -- an allusion to Muslims.

Modi struck some false notes in his campaign addressing more than 25 well-attended rallies. His repeated talk of power shortage in Bihar found few takers as delivery of electricity had vastly improved in Bihar in the 10 years that Nitish Kumar had been Chief Minister.

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