In 2015, Bihar witnessed a closely fought assembly election that saw the unlikely return of Nitish Kumar as the state’s chief minister. Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) party had suffered a crushing defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and was widely seen as being on the verge of irrelevance.
However, Kumar managed to stitch together a coalition of regional parties and mount a strong campaign against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was riding high on the back of its 2014 victory. In the end, the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ alliance led by Nitish Kumar won a decisive victory, capturing 178 of the 243 seats.
Kumar’s comeback was all the more remarkable given that he had faced intense criticism over his decision to break away from the BJP in 2013. His victory in Bihar was seen as a resounding rejection of the BJP’s brand of politics and a testament to the power of regional parties in Indian politics.