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Bihar elections - the Rajaji formula worked

Close to five decades ago elder statesman Chakravarthy Rajagopalachari, (aka Rajaji), appreciated the value of electoral arithmetic.

He factored that the formidable Congress in those time garnered more votes than polled individually by other parties who were fighting elections separately contributing to the splitting of anti-Congress votes. He formed an alliance in the 1967 elections with the DMK and other parties opposed to the Congress. This association contributed to a facile win for the DMK, which captured power with a comfortable majority. The formula worked well in the subsequent elections to the Assembly in Tamil Nadu by parties opposed to the party in power forming a united front.

The arithmetic is simple. Take the voter turn out to be around 60 per cent and the vote share of 35 per cent for the AIADMK; 30 per cent for the DMK; 9 per cent for DMDK; 8 per cent for Congress; 5 per cent for PMK and 2-3 per cent each for CPI, CPM and MDMK. You can now easily see the success of anti-incumbency factor when parties in opposition come together.

This was precisely the reason for the impressive victory of the JDU-RJD-Congress front. When these fought individually in the elections for the Lok Sabha last year, the BJP-LJD combine registered a huge win. In the recent assembly elections, there has not been much of a change in the votes polled by the respective parties. But the coming together of the three major opposition parties ensured comfortable majority  for the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad-Rahul led front.

The lesson is clear for the Tamil Nadu elections due early next year. But with every party leader dreaming of chief-ministership, there is the difficulty of forging unity among the anti-AIADMK parties. They are, of course, familiar with the AIADMK winning 37 out of 39 seats in the elections to the Lok Sabha last year, purely on the splitting of votes among the opposition parties. But elections are still away and the lessons of the Bihar election are bound to weigh with these.


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