Nitish Kumar is trying to protect his Muslim votebank in Bihar by opposing Modi. But the Muslims, who are 15 percent of Bihar's population, did not make much difference in Maharajganj elections and JDU lost the election by a huge margin.
The relationship between Nitish Kumar and the BJP has turned fractious because of his many public jibes at Narendra Modi, one of the BJP's most popular and senior leaders. Yesterday, at a meeting of chief ministers in Delhi, Modi and Kumar did not acknowledge each other.
As a result of the tension, BJP leaders chose not to support Kumar's party in Maharajgunj. The chief minister also did make any attempt to engage with them, like calling them to public meetings.
On Wednesday, JDU candidate PK Shahi, who is also state education minister, said local BJP workers were responsible for his defeat as they did not cooperate with him.
Another JDU member also accused the BJP of working against the chief minister's candidate. "We will see if the damage was done due to alliance deceit," said Ali Anwar of the JD(U).
These statements makes it clear that without the BJP support Nitish cannot take on a willy Lalu Prasad Yadav. The margin of victory is so huge (1.37 lakh votes) that, no amount of explanation will work.
Nitish said today that it was not a JDU defeat as the RJD had won the seat in 2009 and had now just retained it. However, Sharad Yadav, president of the JD(U), acknowledged, "We will introspect because the margin of loss has increased."
Nitish also ruled out any impact of the by-election result on the alliance between the JD-U and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"We disagree that it was RJD's seat, this is just a way to console oneself," said Giriraj Singh of the BJP.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad was quick to react to Nitish Kumar's comments. "What should we do after a big win if not boast?"
Nitish Kumar is edgy as Lalu Prasad had positioned the contest as "the semi-final" before next year's national election.
The state sends 40 members to Lok Sabha.