Bihar state election results were declared on November 11. The counting was delayed in several polling stations and extended way into the night. A close competition between RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) alliance which included Congress and other left-leaning parties and NDA-JDU (National Democratic Alliance – Janata Dal-United) which included the ruling central party BJP was observed. RJD may have lost the battle but it made victory extremely difficult for BJP by becoming the single largest party with 75 seats.
The NDA alliance thus won 125 seats in the 243 seat state assembly. BJP won 72 seats while JDU won 42 seats.
More than 14 hours of counting, and a series of delays, allegations of cheating, EVM hacks and the likes led to the results which were finally declared in the early hours of 11 November. NDA hit the majority mark of 122 at 2:57 am on November 11. The Election Commission was on its toes the entire time and held four press briefings starting from the morning of the day the counting started. The results were published on the official website of Election Commission.
ये उन 119 सीटों की सूची है जहाँ गिनती संपूर्ण होने के बाद महागठबंधन के उम्मीदवार जीत चुके है। रिटर्निंग ऑफ़िसर ने उन्हें जीत की बधाई दी लेकिन अब सर्टिफ़िकेट नहीं दे रहे है कह रहे है कि आप हार गए है। ECI की वेबसाइट पर भी इन्हें जीता हुआ दिखाया गया। जनतंत्र में ऐसी लूट नहीं चलेगी। pic.twitter.com/puUvIagyDz
— Rashtriya Janata Dal (@RJDforIndia) November 10, 2020
Nitish Kumar will continue to be the chief minister of Bihar.
The turnout was much higher than expected. This turnout even beat the 2015 state election with an increase of 0.39%. The three-phase election saw a turnout of 57.05%. The Election Commission had set up more booths this time amid the travel concerns in the pandemic which could have led to a higher turnout. The number of voters at polling booths was reduced from 1400 to 1000 to maintain social distancing rules.
A total of 5.31 lakh polling personnel and 1.80 lakh security personnel were present at various polling booths in the state, which has 7.3 crore registered electors. The women turnout remained higher this time as well. However as the percentage of men voters saw a rise from the 2015 elections, the women turnout was slightly lower.
The election was also a test of trust in the party’s control over the pandemic.
The people of Bihar seem excited at the results.
Vineeta Singh, a native of Bihar says, “The people of Bihar have shown that they have the ability to understand what lies beyond the obvious. Women have played an important role in supporting their pro women’s agenda. Likewise, the youth and the marginalized groups have voted for their specific goals. There is no clean sweep. There is no wave. People of Bihar have a mind of their own and they cannot be brainwashed easily.”
Bihar faced several calamities including floods and unemployment which saw thousands of Biharis walking miles to return to their home state. The state, however, stayed true to its resilience and set the precedence by becoming the first-ever Indian state to go into elections during a pandemic. Though the Covid-19 graph remains alarming in Bihar with more than 2,20,000 cases until now, it is hoped that the new government will restore normalcy in the region.
With low digital literacy in the state and political rallies that saw blatant abuse of all corona guidelines, elections did seem like a difficult task. However, EIC has proven it’s resolve for the execution of timely elections.
The election manifesto of BJP had come into news after the party’s promise to provide free vaccination for the entire population of Bihar if voted to power. It remains to be seen how many promises from that manifesto will see the light of the day. Bihar remains the only state in the North Indian Hindi heartland where BJP hasn’t been able to secure a win individually.
Tejashwi Yadav was the face of RJD in the absence of his father, Lalu Prasad Yadav who is presently serving a jail term for corruption. However the 31-year-old could not return the charisma that was symbolic of the old party leader. Out of the total 243 seats, BJP contested for 121 seats while JDU contested for 122 seats.
Elections in India, the largest democracy in the world do not happen without their fair share of drama. After all, drama in this country isn’t restricted to cinema. We are a society brought up on the fodder of daily soap operas – the underrated fabric of unity in the diversity that is India. Sure enough, the first state elections amidst the pandemic came with its twists and turns, betrayal and unlikely alliances.
The words of the eternal playwright, Shakespeare come to mind: misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows. This line from the play, The Tempest, finds relevance here as compromises and partnerships happened at a fastening rate in the fight for the chair. A plot that could compete with Game of Thrones without the final leg making you regret. Chirag Paswan, previously a close ally of Nitish Kumar, cut off all alliances and stormed into the battlefield as a one-man army. JDU expressed hurt at the comments of Paswan.
LJP was never close to a victory but it did cut out a considerable share of the JDU vote base.