Grand Alliance heads towards big win in Bihar Assembly elections
The "grand alliance" led by the ruling Janata Dal (United), which includes the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, was headed for a handsome victory today as counting of votes progressed in the crucial and bitterly-contested elections to the 243-member Bihar Legislative Assembly.
As counting trends became available for 230 of the 243 seats, the JD (U) and its allies were ahead in 125, past the half-way mark for a simple majority, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had established leads in 96. Others accounted for nine seats.
The campaigning for the elections was marked by sharp and bitter exchanges of barbs among the main contestants.
The elections were seen as a major test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal to the voters and as a battle for survival for Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of the JD(U) and his foe-turned-ally, RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
Polling in the elections was held in five phases on October 12, October 16, October 28, November 1 and November 5, and more than 56.80 percent voting was registered.
Polling was by and large peaceful across the state and no major untoward incident was reported from anywhere.
A total of 67063004 electors, including 31282535 women, were eligible to exercise their franchise in the elections and there were, in all, 3450 candidates, including 272 women, in the fray.
The Election Commission had set up 65349 polling stations and made elaborate arrangements to ensure a freee and fair poll.
Counting of votes began at 8 am today amidst tight security at 39 centres across the state and al the results are expected to be in by this evening.
All counting centres are situated in the district headquarters. There are two counting centres separated by a common road in Saharsa distict and one each in the 37 other districts.
The Election Commission ensured 24x7 three-tier security at all counting centres, with the inner cordon being manned by personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF). Closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras have been installed at all counting centres.
The commission also deployed an observer each in all 243 constituencies to oversee the counting process.
Exit polls had produced varying forecasts, with some putting the "grand alliance" ahead and others predicting a victory for the NDA.