The NDA scraped past the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance in a nail-biting contest to retain power in the Bihar assembly elections . The see-saw battle came to an end late last night after the ruling coalition clinched 125 seats in the 243-member State Assembly against the 110 secured by the Grand Alliance.
Pulled down by the dismal showing of the Congress, the strong performance of AIMIM in Seemanchal, and the less-than-expected tally of RJD, the Mahagathbandhan refused to accept the results. It accused the returning officers of falling under pressure from the ruling alliance, but the Election Commission refuted the allegation.
Bihar results: How are the numbers stacked
The BJP, which led the table for several hours during the counting that dragged on for over 16 hours, won 74 seats to emerge as the senior member in its alliance with Nitish Kumar’s JDU, which won just 43. The RJD, with 75 seats in its kitty, has emerged as the single-largest party. The Congress contested 70 seats but won only 19. It fared poorly in the seats where it was in a straight fight with the BJP. Chirag Paswan’s LJP, which had parted ways with the NDA and set up candidates against the JD(U), won just one seat — its worst performance since its inception in October 2000.
The elections also saw the resurgence of the Left, which had made a pre-poll pact with the RJD-Congress combine. The biggest gainer was the CPI-ML, which clinched 12 seats, followed by the CPI and CPI-M (two each). Barring the CPI-ML, which had three seats in the outgoing assembly, none of the Left parties had a presence in the House. The ruling alliance partners HAM and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) won four seats each.
The third front in Bihar, the Grand Democratic Secular Front, which was hoping to be kingmaker at best or a good spoiler at the least, ended up hurting the Mahagathbandhan chances. While the Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), which heads this Front, failed to secure a single seat from among the 104 it contested, the alliance’s best showing was by the Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM, which won 5 seats and the BSP grabbed one. Pushpam Priya Chaudhry, the London-educated daughter of a Janata Dal-United leader in Darbhanga, who had declared herself the CM candidate, failed to make any impact in the two seats where she is fighting — Bankipur and Bisfi.
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In terms of vote share, the NDA stands at less than 40 per cent. In comparison, the RJD-led grand alliance has managed around 37 per cent votes. The RJD topped the vote share with 23.1 per cent followed by the BJP at 19.5 per cent. With 15.4 per cent, the JD(U) was third on the list, followed by others at 18.8 per cent. Congress managed just 9.5 per cent of the votes, while the BSP and AIMM ended up with a vote share of 1.49 per cent and 1.24 per cent. The NOTA vote polled was at 1.68 per cent.
Bihar results: Will Nitish Kumar return as the CM?
With Bihar victory, riding on the BJP’s back, questions began to emerge on Nitish Kumar’s role in the new government. The slide in JD(U)’s tally has made the BJP a dominant partner for the first time in the state. However, while the senior BJP leaders have clarified that Kumar will continue to be the alliance’s face in the state, there were noises within. There is an awareness that the anger against Nitish Kumar was vocal and visible during the campaign and even if it had not translated into seats for the Opposition alliance — as exit polls had predicted — it should not be brushed away.
A senior BJP leader said that one option the party was looking at was to “offer” Nitish Kumar the CM’s post as had been announced in public but keep future options open. “There may be a review of this decision after six months to one year,” the leader said. Speaking to The Indian Express, another party leader Sanjay Paswan suggested there was still room for reconsideration. The BJP’s efforts to signal that it will honour its commitment is also meant to counter the criticism of it being a not-so-trustworthy partner.
If Kumar does return, this will be his fourth tenure as the CM.
Did Chirag Paswan dent JD(U) prospects in Bihar?
As per preliminary analysis, the JD(U) has been hit hard in these polls by Chirag Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party. Paswan’s strategy –– who cited “differences” with JD(U) to announce exit from the NDA –– of praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hitting out at Nitish Kumar, seems to have been instrumental in JD(U)’s defeat in more than 30 seats, even though the party itself won just one seat.
Bihar results: In few seats, narrow margin caused the difference
Till late last night, the game was wide open in Bihar. While the NDA managed to pull ahead, the victory margin in some of the seats was very narrow – of less than 1,000. The thinnest margin between the winner and the runner-up was just of 12 votes in Hilsa, where JD(U) emerged as the winner. In Bachhwara, Barbigha, Bhorey, Dehri, Matihani, Ramgarh the margin was less than 500 votes. In Bakhri, Chakai, Kurhani, Parbatta the winning margin was less than 1000.
Bihar results: How did the heavyweights fare in the poll?
Brothers Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap won the Raghopur and Hasanpur seats with impressive margins of 38,174 and 21,139 votes respectively. Prominent losers from the RJD included Abdul Bari Siddiqui, a former state party chief, and Lalu Prasad’s Man Friday Bhola Yadav who lost from Keoti and Hayaghat seats in Darbhanga respectively. Senior Bihar minister Vijendra Prasad Yadav of JD(U) won from Supual, and Niraj Singh Babloo of the BJP, a cousin of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, whose mysterious death became an election issue, retained the Chhatapur seat.
State assembly speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary of the JD(U) was among the victors. Ace former shooter and Commonwealth gold medalist Shreyasi Singh of BJP won the Jamui seat by over 41,000 votes, but veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadav’s daughter Subhashini lost in Bihariganj. HAM president Jitan Ram Manjhi defeated former state assembly speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary in Imamganj of Gaya district.
(With inputs from agencies, ENS)
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