New Delhi: An edge of seat contest unfolded on Tuesday night in Bihar as the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) secured a majority in the 243-member assembly and the RJD-led opposition alliance giving it a tough competition. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won 74 seats, while the Janata Dal (United) has won 43 seats.
Of the 243 seats, 125 have gone in favour of the ruling coalition headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and 110 to rival Grand Alliance. The RJD emerged as the single-largest party in the House with 75 seats.
The AIMIM of Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi has sprung a surprise, clinching five seats in the Seemanchal region having a large Muslim population. Its Grand Democratic Secular Front (GDSF) ally, the BSP, has pocketed one seat.
Chirag Paswan’s LJP, which had walked out of the NDA just ahead of the polls and gone to the hustings alone, finally opened its account, winning just one seat. An Independent candidate also won. The CPI and CPI (Marxist) won two seats each, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (Liberation) 12 seats, Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) four, Congress 19, and Vikassheel Insaan Party four. Other parties have won the remaining 2 seats.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that every section of the society has expressed its faith in the alliance’s mantra of “with all, development for all, trust of all” and assured people that it will work with full dedication for balanced development of everybody and every region.
Voters of Bihar have made it clear that their aspiration and priority are development alone, Modi said in a series of tweets, adding that the people’s blessings for the NDA’s good governance show what are the state’s dreams and expectations. PM Modi also said that democracy has again won in Bihar and it was amazing to see the dedication and the determination with which each member of the BJP and the NDA worked during the elections. “I congratulate the workers and express my heartfelt gratitude to the people of Bihar,” he said.
He said the youth of Bihar have affirmed that the new decade will belong to the state and “aatmanirbhar Bihar” will be its roadmap. “The youth of Bihar have shown their trust in their abilities and in the NDA’s resolve. This youth’s energy has motivated the NDA to work harder than before,” he said.
The ruling alliance has drawn support from all sections of society, including the rural region, poor, farmers, workers and traders, he said. Highlighting the higher polling share of women in the assembly elections, the prime minister said their record participation has shown how big a role they have in “aatmanirbhar Bihar”. The NDA is glad that it got a chance to infuse renewed self-confidence in the woman power, he said.
Bihar gave the world its first lessons in democracy, he said in a reference to the historical republic of Vaishali, and added that the state has again shown the world as to how to strengthen democracy. “Bihar’s poor, deprived and women have voted in record numbers and today have given their decisive verdict for development,” PM Modi said.
Election Commission officials said nearly 1.6 lakh postal ballots were electronically transferred to service votes. Nearly 52,000 postal ballots were used by people above 80 years of age and those with disabilities. Out of nearly 7.3 crore voters, 57.09 per cent had cast votes in the polls.
To ensure social distancing norms put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission had increased the number of polling stations from nearly 65,000 in the 2015 assembly polls to 1.06 lakh. This meant an increase in the number of electronic voting machines as well.
This time, the EC has restricted the number of voters per polling station to 1,000 from 1,500 to maintain physical distancing, thus increasing the number of polling stations.
An official said in the 2015 assembly polls, counting was held in 38 locations. But to ensure distancing norms, this time, counting is being held at 55 locations. He added that the number of EVMs deployed have increased.
The number of tables used per hall has been reduced to seven from the usual 14. But 14 tables have been put in place, though locations and as a result locations have increased. Another official said that the number of rounds for counting varies between 19 and 51 in different constituencies. The average come to approximately 35 rounds. Each round takes around 30 minutes to complete.
Responding to a query on some people questioning the reliability of EVMs, Deputy Election Commissioner in charge of EVMs Sudip Jain said the machines are “absolutely tamper-proof” and the Supreme Court has upheld the use of the device on multiple occasions.
One control unit and at least ballot unit make for one EVM.