NEW DELHI: “Jaise AAP ne jharu se BJP ko Dilli se nikaal diya that, hum bhi wahi karne walen hain”. (Just as the Aam Aadmi Party swept the BJP out of Delhi with a broom, we are also going to do the same),

When one heard this from the first group of voters on the outskirts of Patna at the onset of the polls, this sounded strange. Almost surreal. As there seemed to be little in common with the villagers expressing this sentiment, and their more slick Delhi neighbours. But by the time one ended the first day, this sentiment had been expressed by so many voters in Bihar to this writer that it almost seemed as if Delhi and Bihar had merged into one, with the remote village in the state as connected and as informed, perhaps even more so, than the Dilliwalla.

And the broom worked against all those who had sought to oppose the very popular Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his ally Lalu Yadav. Asaduddin Owaisi was swept out as were the smaller political parties like the Lokjanshakti party of Ram Vilas Paswan that had bargained hard for 40 seats and won barely two. Others like the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RSLP) of Union Minister Upendra Kuswaha and the Hindustan Awam Morcha (Secular) of former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi dissolved into insignificance, swept away by the unrelenting broom wielded by the Bihar voter.

As the BJP goes into a huddle, faced with what former Minister Arun Shourie describes as a “silent rebellion” within, the Opposition parties are waiting for the Bihar euphoria to settle to look at new alignments with an eye on the next Lok Sabha elections. Bihar chief minister by the simple sweep of his victory is now positioned to head the new alignment, given further status by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who fought him directly in the polls.

The Congress party that played its cards right, and entered into an alliance with Nitish Kumar without squabbling or sulking, has exceeded its own expectations with 27 Assembly seats. The voters made it clear to this writer in Bihar that the vote was for the ‘grand alliance’ and not for the Congress. As many of them explained in constituencies allocated to the Congress party, “the Congress is part of the mahagatbandhan and we are voting for it.” Most did not even know the name of the Congress party candidate but the vote, highly transferrable, moved behind the grand alliance. Sources suggest that the Congress has to take a decision whether to be part of the new realignment, or throw its own hat in the ring. Much will depend on the State Assembly elections over the next three years.

Interestingly, Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, Naveen Patnaik in Orissa and Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi are reportedly on board for a larger grouping with Nitish Kumar at the helm. Both were amongst the first to call and congratulate him. Sources close to the grand alliance hint at ‘fast paced action’ maintaining that talks will begin with regional parties from the forthcoming winter session of Parliament. As one leader said, “a new unity will be evident in Parliament as well as outside.” This time Kumar will not quit the Chief Minister seat for national aspirations, but as the sources said, remain in charge of the state even as he and others with him explore new possibilities.

The Left parties have remained outside the alliance, preferring to fight and lose all seats---except for a couple---in Bihar. They formed a front that initially had worried the alliance, as it had the potential of cutting the social justice votes but after it became clear that the voters were unmoved, the conglomerate faded itself out. Sources said that the Left had kept itself out of the grand alliance and hence, might now not be part of a national alternative under consideration. More so, as the Trinamool Congress ruling West Bengal is also a potential ally now.

In Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi party’s Mulayam Singh who was part of the front broke away just before the polls to set up a ‘third front’ that was seen by many in the grand alliance as “a BJP backed” effort to splinter the votes. JD(U) leader KC Tyagi, however, insisted that the SP had no clout in Bihar releasing figures compiled from earlier elections to prove that its candidates had always lost their deposits, or hardly ever reached four figures. In Uttar Pradesh, the grand alliance is looking seriously at the Bahujan Samaj party that has won the local elections in UP recently, leaving both the BJP and the SP behind. Mayawati has usually been kept out of Left led alliances because of its proximity with Mulayam Singh Yadav. However, the grand alliance allies, sources said, have no such restrictions.

Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Telangana all offer possibilities for a coalition that many now within say has assumed real proportions with the Bihar victory. And the movement ahead, sources said, will “certainly not be slow.” The BJP that was looking for a captive Rajya Sabha before the next Lok Sabha elections through winning successive Assembly elections might find this to be more difficult than it had envisaged early last year.