NDA retains power in Bihar with slender margin, BJP becomes main player in ruling alliance
Patna, November 11, 2020
The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has retained power in Bihar with a slender 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 narrow lead against the opposition Mahagathbandhan (MGB) as the counting of votes in the crucial elections -- held amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic -- progressed through all of Tuesday.
When the Election Commission declared the final tally in the early hours of today, 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 125 seats, 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, won 110 seats.
Within the NDA, the BJP bagged 74 seats, while the JD-U ended up with 43 and HAM and VIP with four 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 75, ending up as the single largest party in the House, some consolation for its leader Tejashwi Yadav, who was the chief ministerial candidate of the combine and whose hopes about the top post must have been raised by the exit polls.
The Congress could manage to win only 19 of the 70 seats in contested. 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 process of counting of votes took longer than usual this time 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.
While the very early trends on Tuesday had 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 on Tuesday, 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.
Polling for the Bihar assembly elections was held in three phases on October 28, November 3 and November 7.