The bitterly contested Bihar assembly elections ended Thursday with a record turnout of 57 per cent over five phases and exit polls predicted a photo-finish Sunday but one projected a sweep by the BJP-led NDA.
Of the six exit polls until Friday evening, News 24-Chanakya gave the BJP and its allies a tally of 155 in the 243-seat House and 83 for the Grand Alliance or Mahagathbandhan of the JD(U), RJD and Congress.
The News X-CNX predicted 130-140 seats for Mahagathbandhan and a survey broadcast by ABP News gave it 130 seats.
Two other polls said the combine led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had an edge — C-Voter (112-132) and NewsNation (120-124).
- It’s decision day in Bihar
- For the Narendra Modi-led NDA, a victory in Bihar will be a shot in the arm for the party after the defeat in Delhi.
- Counting begins, Grand Alliance trails NDA in early leads
- Bihar polls: A to Z of one of India’s most watched elections
The ITG-Cicero poll, which was put out by the India Today channel, predicted 113-127 seats for the NDA and 111-123 for the Mahagathbandhan.
The fifth phase of polling ended peacefully Friday despite reports of attempts to polarise voting in areas with high concentration of Muslims. Polling took place in 57 seats in the regions of Seemanchal, Mithilanchal and Kosi.
The Election Commission said the turnout in Bihar was “historic” — never before had voting been so heavy, not in any other Lok Sabha or assembly election in the state.
The overall voter turnout was 56.80 per cent. In the first round on October 12, the turnout was 57 per cent; 55 per cent in round two; 53.2 per cent in round three; 57.59 per cent in round four; and, 55.9 per cent in the fifth and final round Friday.
The BJP is counting on the youth and a vote for change — the party’s poll slogan was badlaav. The JD(U) interpreted the high turnout as a “positive signal” because of the “absence of any anti-incumbency factor” against Nitish Kumar, who is seeking a third term.
After the fifth round ended Friday, the BJP said the assembly poll results will not be a referendum on the performance of the Modi government but on Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar and the ‘jungle raj’.
“There is no question of the verdict in Bihar assembly polls being a referendum on the Narendra Modi government’s performance. If at all, the Bihar polls are a referendum on anything, it is on Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar and jungle raj,” BJP’s poll in-charge in Bihar and Union minister Ananth Kumar told newsmen in Patna.
“The exit poll surveys may project a different story so we will wait till November 8 for the verdict that will be decisively in favour of NDA which will get two-third majority in Bihar,” he said.
On pollsters describing the verdict for the battle for Bihar as a “tight contest” and “photo finish”, he said: “There is nothing called photo finish or tight contest… It does not happen often… It has not happened many times in past three decades as the electorate in a number of states have decisively voted for a party or alliance.”
“The people of Bihar have given a decisive mandate and the results will become clear on only November 8 next,” he said.
In the last elections, the JD(U) and BJP entered the fray together and won a massive majority.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.