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NDA stays slightly ahead as counting of votes progresses in Bihar Assembly elections
Patna, November 10, 2020
In a rather close contest, the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) managed to snatch and retain a slender lead against the opposition Mahagathbandhan (MGB) as the counting of votes in the crucial elections to the 243-member Bihar Legislative Assembly progressed today.
Defying the exit polls which predicted a huge loss for it, 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), was leading in 123 seats after more than 80 per cent of the votes had been counted.
The Mahagathbandhan, comprising the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Congress and the Left, was leading in 113 seats, contrary to the numbers in the exit polls, which had forecast a decisive victory for the opposition alliance.
The half-way mark in the Assembly is 122.
Of the NDA tally, the BJP had won or was leading in 72 constituencies, the JD-U in 43, the HAM in four and VIP in four. This means that the BJP has emerged as the main player in the alliance with more seats than Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD-U.
In the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance), the RJD had won or was leading in 77 seats and could well end up as the single largest party. The Congress was ahead in 19, the CPI(ML) in 12, the CPI in three and the CPI(M) in two.
Of the remaining seats, the All India Majlis-E-Ittehad Muslimeen (AIMIM) was leading in five constituencies, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and an independent candidate in one each.
Most of the results are expected to be out late tonight. The process of counting of votes is taking longer than usual because of COVID-19 protocols 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.
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 has also begun in the bye-election to the Valmiki Nagar seat in the Lok Sabha from Bihar.
The counting exercise began at 8 am, with postal ballots taken up first.
In Bihar, as many as 414 counting halls have been set up in 55 counting centres in 38 districts of the state.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made across Bihar to ensure peaceful counting.
Polling for the Bihar elections was held in three phases on October 28, November 3 and November 7.