LIVE updates of the Bihar Assembly election result 2020. RJD-led Mahagathbandhan is taking on the BJP-JDU’s NDA alliance
More than 55 percent turnout in the two phases of Bihar assembly elections matches the first two phases of the polls held in 2015.
The turnout would be moderate under normal circumstances. But being held under the the shadow of COVID-19, it is encouraging, according to the experts and poll officials. They said it indicates that the voters of Bihar masked their fear of the pandemic and stepped out to exercise their franchise in the state which has historically been among the worst in the country in terms of voter turnouts.
“It is an encouraging signal,” Prof Sanjay Kumar of the Centre for the Study of Developing Studies (CSDS) said after the voter turnout in the first phase of elections. The three-phase Bihar assembly election is the first voting exercise being held in India since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The first two phases held on October 28 and November 3 recorded a voter turnout of 55.69 percent and 55.7 percent respectively. The third and the last phase will be held on November 7 and the counting of votes will be held on November 10.
“Encouraging that voters are taking interest in the election, coming out to vote despite Corona,” Prof Kumar elaborated.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora who called it a “good turnout despite COVID-19 threat” thanked people of Bihar, the local administrations and the polling staff after the second phase was over. The polls are being held amid unprecedented health protocols for voters, politicians and election officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In 2015 assembly elections, Bihar recorded 56.8 percent voter turnout, the highest in the last 15 years.
Bihar Assembly poll voter turnout has decreased from 62.6 percent in 2000 to 56.8 percent in 2015.
Anti-incumbency vote or reverse migration?
What are the implications of a good turnout? Analysts say that a voter enthusiasm would mean a popular vote against the incumbent government.
“The turnout is satisfactory for sure, especially when elections are being held amid the pandemic. We cannot say what it means exactly. But it does indicate an anti-incumbency against Nitish Kumar,” NK Choudhary, political analyst and former faculty at Patna University told Moneycontrol.
The BJP is contesting the elections as part of the NDA, along with the Janata Dal (United) and other parties. The ruling coalition is challenged by Mahagathbandhan comprising RJD, the Congress and the Left parties.
Most of the opinion polls have predicted an NDA win in Bihar.
Many attribute the good turnout to pandemic-induced reverse migration. Overall, three lakh migrant workers are registered as voters in Bihar’s 38 districts. Of these, nearly 19 lakh had returned home during the pandemic and stayed back, officials said.
Bihar’s voter turnout has decreased from 62.6 percent in 2000 to 56.8 percent in 2015 assembly polls. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections it was 55.38 percent while in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it was 53.54 percent.
Low voter turnout has many reasons, experts said, disenchantment among voters being the primary one. Some say that political mobilisation in Bihar has been limited compared to other states, others say the reduced enthusiasm in voting in the last two decades because the governments have not delivered.
“The voter turnout in Bihar has started increasing in mid-90’s during the election reforms under TN Seshan (former chief election commissioner). Booth capturing stopped in Bihar. Also, Lalu’s rule increased the enthusiasm among lower castes,” said Prof DM Diwakar, social scientist and former director of the Patna-based AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies.
Of the 2.19 lakh COVID-19 cases reported so far, 96.5 per cent patients have recovered and 1,113 have died in Bihar
In 1990 assembly elections, the voter turnout in Bihar was 62.04 percent while it was 61.8 per cent in 1995 and in 2000, it was 62.6 percent, highest ever in the last two decades.
“However, over the years people were dissatisfied by the governments as they did not witness any improvement in their lives. Gradually, the enthusiasm started waning,” Prof Diwakar said.
The novel coronavirus is surprisingly showing an impressive decline in Bihar even as political rallies and meetings drew huge crowds in the poll-bound state. Of the 2.19 lakh COVID-19 cases reported so far, 96.5 per cent patients have recovered and 1,113 have died, according to the state health department.
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