The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is all set to form the next government in Bihar after defeating the Tejashwi Yadav-led Mahagathbandhan in the assembly elections, paving way for Nitish Kumar to be the chief minister for the fourth consecutive term.
The NDA won 125 seats, clearing the majority mark in the 243-member Assembly. The Mahagathbandhan or the Grand Alliance won 110 seats.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief JP Nadda and BJP Bihar in-charge Bhupendra Yadav were among the BJP leaders to call the verdict and congratulate the people of Bihar for voting NDA to power even before the final numbers came in.
"Every voter in Bihar has clearly stated that their priority is only development," the PM tweeted in Hindi.
The results, marred by controversies with RJD and the Left parties crying foul over the results in few seats and announced late in the night after slower counting due to COVID-19 precautions, defied projections by most of the exit polls predicting a defeat for the ruling NDA and a clean sweep for the Grand Alliance.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), part of the NDA along with the ruling Janata Dal (United), turned out to be the biggest winner by bagging 74 seats, 21 more than 53 that the party won in 2015 assembly polls making it a senior partner in the ruling alliance.
Nitish Kumar's JD (U), however, underperformed bagging 43 seats, 28 less than 71 that it won in 2015 assembly polls. The other smaller parties of NDA, the HAM and the VIP bagged 4 seats each.
Chirag Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), that fought the election alone, won one seat in the 143 it contested but ended up cutting into JD(U) votes, according to poll observers. Last time, the party had won two of the 42 seats it contested.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), however, emerged as the single largest party with 75 seats. In 2015 too, RJD was the single largest party with 81 seats.
The Congress, the other partner in the Grand Alliance bagged 19 seats, eight less than 27 that it won in 2015 evoking criticism from political commentators for dragging down the Grand Alliance's final tally.
The three Left parties, part of the Grand Alliance, bagged 16 of the 29 seats it contested seats, with CPI-ML (Liberation) winning 12 of them.
Among other parties, the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen won five seats.
A party or an alliance had to won at least 122 seats in the 243-member House to be in power in Bihar. The elections were held in three phases.
Most of the exit polls had predicted that the Mahagathbandhan had an edge over the NDA.
The three-phase Bihar election was not only India’s first full-fledged election to be held amid the coronavirus pandemic, but also the biggest global voting exercise to be conducted during the crisis.
In the 2015 assembly elections, the RJD bagged 80 seats, JD-U got 71 seats, BJP 53, Congress 27, LJP 2, and others 12 seats. The JD-U, however, was part of the Mahagathbandhan with the RJD and the Congress, in 2015. Nitish Kumar, who became the CM after the MGB’s victory, switched sides two years later and became CM with the BJP’s support.
Towards the last rounds of vote counting, the RJD and the CPI-ML had alleged foul play on some seats with a close margin of votes between the winner and the loser. The CPI-ML sought recounting on three seats, too. The Election Commission however dismissed the allegations saying "we do not work under any one's influence."
The poll panel officials said the delay in counting was because there was a 63 percent increase in polling booths this time, and compared to 2015 polls, 45 percent more EVMs were used this time due to the COVID-19 precautions.
The number of polling booths has increased from 65,376 in the 2015 assembly polls to 1.06 crore, they said.Bihar Election 2020: Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage here