NDA poised to retain power in Bihar with slender margin
Patna, November 11, 2020
The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) appeared set to retain power in Bihar with a thin margin in the elections to the 243-member legislative assembly that turned out to be a cliff-hanger and went down to the wire.
In a rather close contest, the ruling NDA, defying exit polls which had predicted a huge loss for it, managed to snatch and retain a slender lead against the opposition Mahagathbandhan (MGB) as the counting of votes in the crucial elections -- held amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic -- progressed through Tuesday.
By 1.30 am on Wednesday, the Election Commission had declared results for 234 of the 243 seats.
The NDA, which consists of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) (Secular) and the Vikasshil Insaan Party (VIP), had won 119 seats and was leading in six more, making for a total of 125, three more than the 122 needed for a simple majority in the House.
The Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance), comprising the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Congress and three Left parties, had won 107 seats and was leading in three more, adding up to 110.
Within the NDA, the BJP won 70 seats and was leading in four, adding up to 74 while the JD-U won 41 seats and was ahead in two more, adding up to 43. HAM and VIP picked up four seats each.
This means that the BJP, which was playing second fiddle to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD-U in the outgoing government, has now emerged as the senior partner in the alliance.
In the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance), the RJD won 73 seats and was leading in two more, making for a total of 75, and it could well end up as the single largest party in the House.
The Congress won 18 seats and was leading in one, the CPI(Marxist-Leninist)(Liberation) won 12 and the CPI and the CPI (Marxist) won two seats each.
Of the remaining seats, the All India Majlis-E-Ittehad Muslimeen (AIMIM) won five seats, while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and an independent candidate picked up one seat each.
The remaining results are expected to be announced soon. The process of counting of votes took longer than usual because of the COVID-19 protocols that were in place during the polling and the counting. For instance, the number of polling booths and electronic voting machines (EVMs) used were much higher this time. Also, social distancing and other norms are in place in the counting halls, which has added to the delay.
There are a significant number of constituencies where the margins separating the main rivals are very narrow -- less than a thousand votes or even five hundred votes in many places.
While the very early trends put the MGB ahead, the BJP surged into the lead by noon as the counting of votes progressed, making it a much closer contest than what the exit polls had predicted.
By noon, the mood at the BJP and JD-U offices in Patna and other parts of Bihar as well as in the national capital had turned upbeat in sharp contrast to the despondent air that had prevailed there early in the morning. By evening, party workers were seen celebrating at many places, bursting crackers and distributing sweets.
Counting of votes began this morning in the Bihar Assembly elections as well as in bye-elections for 58 assembly seats in 11 other States.
Counting of votes was also taken up in the bye-election to the Valmiki Nagar seat in the Lok Sabha from Bihar, where the JD-U candidate was leading.
The counting exercise began at 8 am, with postal ballots taken up first.
In Bihar, as many as 414 counting halls were set up in 55 counting centres in 38 districts of the state.
Elaborate security arrangements were made across Bihar to ensure peaceful counting.
Polling for the Bihar assembly elections was held in three phases on October 28, November 3 and November 7.