It's clear that BJP has not been defeated in Bihar rather routed. Experts are pointing many reasons for this debacle. Even some top BJP leaders are citing opposition's unity, party's failure to project credible backward leaders etc as reasons for the debacle. What caused a complete rout despite just 3% vote swing?
The real reason is BJP's underestimating the strategy of Prashant Kishore and his 300-member team comprising IITians and MBAs. Not to forget Prashant Kishor, the founder of IPAC (Indian People's Action Committee) was behind makeover of brand Modi and chief strategists behind Narendra Modi led BJP's spectacular win in General Elections 2014. There was a feud between Amit Shah and Prashant Kishor's team (because of Prashant's too much proximity with Modi) that resulted in Prashant's ouster from Modi's campaign team.
Nitish Kumar was quick to hire Prashant and his team for the assembly elections. Prashant and his team was camping in Patna since March. They devised various strategies for Nitish Kumar's win. Truly speaking while NDA was contesting against Mahagathbandhan, the real contest was between Amit Shah and Prashant Kishor.
Let's understand how Prashant Kishor foxed Amit Shah. BJP was harping on following points for NDA's electoral success.
1) Narendra Modi's image and his popularity among youth that comprises around fifty per cent of total voters.
2) Although RJD and JDU leaders united at top but 21 years of enmity between them will never unite ground workers resulting non-transfer of votes between JDU and RJD.
3) Support of SC and EBC to NDA through Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitan Ram Manjhi.
The assumption on the above three aspects are correct and BJP should have won this election. But Prashnat Kishor just destroyed the strong advantages of BJP through very innovative skills. First he created brand Nitish.
He launched a comic series of 'Munna se Nistish' in the same manner he did for Modi (Bal Narendra). Through this comic series he showed how Nitish Kumar rose from scratch to become CM of Bihar. He devised the strategy of door to door campaigning through personal letter of Nitish Kumar to every house hold. He managed twitter handle of Nitish Kumar that connected with every Bihari youth. The #Ask Nitish, 'Parche Pe Charcha' (on the lines of 'Chai Pe Charcha) were adopted that made elite and youth Biharis to connect with Nitish. Recorded speech of Nitish Kumar was sent to each cell number repeatedly. These methods in fact not only built brand Nitish in Bihar but also connected with sizable voters in the state.
The problem in sending out the message that both RJD and JDU are united is taken care of very intelligently. Nitish was made poster boy on every hoardings along with the electoral symbols of Congress, RJD and JDU. Brilliantly it was strategised that Nitish and Lalu shouldn't campaign from one podium because of their contradicting style. Both Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar campaigned separately but touched all 243 assembly constituencies.
Nitish Kumar remained positive, soft and decent as per his image developed where as Lalu Yadav became aggressive so as to mobilize his vote bank. One common thing they followed was that both of them praised each other in every single rally giving message that they complement and supplement each other.
Apart from above 500 cycles were provided to Mahagathbandhan workers who campaigned in rural belt conveying 7 point commitments of 'Nitishe Sarkar'. The point to be noted here is that instead of 'Nitish Sarkar' they used the term 'Nitishe Sarkar' which carried a local stamp. The list of Mahagathbandhan candidates was declared in one go, manifesto is made for Mahagathbandhan only and irrespective of which party was contesting, the three symbols are displayed in entire 243 constituencies. All these things made people to understand that the unity between the three parties namely JDU, RJD, Congress is very strong.
Narendra Modi's rally was challenging for Mahagathbandhan. But they were also able to nullify Modi rally's effect by organizing press conferences within hour of Modi's rally to rebut charges levelled by Modi through well researched data. Also twitter and Facebook posts were used for this purpose.
Prashant Kishor's strategy was to achieve majority to form the government. But some of BJP's strategical mistakes give them much armour. BJP's poster carried large images of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah (I don't understand why Amit Shah's image was there) where as Mahagathbandhan's poster carried only Nitish Kumar's image. This prompted the campaign team to coin the term 'Bahari versus Bihari'. This really worked magically as it touched majority of voters. Amit Shah realized this and withdrew such posters by replacing them with local posters. But damage was already done.
Mohan Bhagwat's reservation comment came to Mahagathbandhan as very handy and a message to dalits and backwards was sent very effectively that BJP is in favour of ending reservation system. BJP and Modi tried their level best but failed to dismiss the perception of insecurity that has entered into backward class.
V.K. Singh's dog remarks and BJP's hot head and motor mouthed leaders' irresponsible remarks worked as catalyst to Mahagathbandhan's success rate and finally they are able to achieve a spectacular win. Interestingly Amit Shah and BJP realised that they were losing out to Prashant Kishor's strategy in every phase and day by day. The desperation and frustration could be seen in the body language of Amit Shah and Narendra Modi from 3rdphase of voting. Amit Shah must be realizing what irreparable loss they incurred by ignoring Prashant Kishor.
Point is, whether Prashant Kishor is the answer to future elections. I believe there would be more Prashant Kishors in various parties in the run up to next election as campaign style in India is changing.
Next point is whether Prashant Kishor can win election for any party. I think Prashant Kishor's strategy works if there is a politician with clean image with credibility and honesty and carry some positive achievements. In such scenario Prashant Kishor can definitely make a politician and his party winner in any election when the opposite party fights with conventional politics.
If a party or political personality is worthless then Prashant Kishor can't do anything for them. Both Modi and Nitish Kumar have the personalities which suited to Prashant Kishor's strategy and hence he was successful in Lok Sabha polls 2014 and Bihar polls 2015.
Thus for BJP's debacle if someone is to be blamed its Amit Shah who ignored and removed Prashant Kishor from Modi's campaign management team. He could be an asset for spreading good works of PM Narendra Modi. But sometimes basic things could not be understand due to ego and over confidence of senior leaders.