In a close contest that went down to the wire, the JD(U)–led NDA attained simple majority in the Bihar Assembly elections by winning 125 seats while the RJD-led Opposition UPA got 110 seats and eight seats went to others in the 243-member Assembly. The new Assembly has to be constituted by November 29.
Under the NDA coalition, the BJP secured the maximum number of 74 seats while alliance partner JD(U) was restricted to just 43 and its other two allies — the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) and the Vikasheel Insaan Party — to four seats each. HAM(S) chief and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi won his seat from Imamganj in Gaya district while VIP president Mukesh Sahni lost from the Simri-Bakhtiyarpur seat in Saharsa district.
Among the Mahagathbandhan allies, the RJD got 75 seats, five less than its 2015 Assembly poll figure, while the Congress won a mere 19 of the 70 seats it contested. But the three Left parties — the CPI (Marxist-Leninist), the CPI and the CPI(M) — won 16 of the 29 seats they contested. The CPI(ML) won 12 of the 19 seats it contested — mostly in Bhojpur and Jehanabad districts — and the other two won two seats each. The RJD emerged as the single largest party in the elections.
The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) too made its mark significantly in the Muslim-dominated Seemanchal (border) areas by winning five of the 24 seats it contested. It cut into the vote share of the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan among the minority voters.
Similarly, the Lok Janshakti Party could win just one seat — Matihani in Begusarai district — but marred the prospects of nearly 20 JD(U) candidates. “We did what we fought for…we contested to defeat the JD(U) candidates and to make the BJP stronger,” said LJP chief Chirag Paswan on Wednesday. A Bahujan Samaj Party candidate and an independent too won from the Chainpur and the Chakai constituencies respectively.
The RJD-led UPA, whose poll prospects appeared bright in the exit poll predictions, lodged a complaint with the Election Commission alleging that “on the direction from the Chief Minister’s office, local officials did not issue winning certificate to our candidates who had won the poll by thin margin”. Several candidates won/lost the poll by a margin of less than 200 votes like RJD candidate Shakti Singh Yadav losing in the Hilsa seat in Nalanda district against JD(U) candidate Krishnamurari Sharan alias Prem Mukhia by a mere 12 votes. In Bhore (Gopalganj) and Ramgarh (Bhabhua) seats too, the winning margins for candidates were nearly 200 votes.
“Whatever was the result of the poll, it underlined three important things: that there was anti-Nitish feeling reeling in the State, the poll established RJD leader and party’s anointed heir Tejashwi Yadav as a leader out of his father Lalu Prasad’s towering shadow and, the Left parties saw their electoral revival after a long time,” political analyst and former professor of Patna University Nawal Kishore Choudhury told The Hindu. “Two months ago, the electoral scenario was one-sided in favour of the NDA but when the campaign kickstarted, Tejashwi Yadav turned the battle into a close fight,” he said.
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