Counting of votes got under way Tuesday morning for the three-phase Bihar assembly elections that may herald a new era in state politics, with exit polls predicting a victory for the RJD-led Grand Alliance.
However, in the last hour or so, the ruling NDA has surged ahead of the opposition alliance of Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Congress and Left parties, moving above the half-way mark after a close fight for Bihar’s 243 seats.
As per latest trends, the opposition alliance is currently at 100 seats, the NDA in 126 seats in Bihar Election Results. The RJD is ahead in 67 seats, the Congress in 21 and the Left parties in 9 seats. The BJP is leading in 72 seats, the JDU in 47. The LJP is leading in 7 seats.
The exercise will decide the electoral fate of over 3,700 candidates who are in the race to win the 243 seats of the tate assembly.
Counting started at 8 am at 55 centres spread across 38 districts amid tight security and precautions to avoid the spread of Covid-19 pandemic during the process.
Over 57 per cent of about 7.30 crore electors have exercised their franchise in what is the first major election in the country since the onset of the pandemic.
Votes are also being simultaneously counted for the Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha by-poll, which was necessitated by the death of JD(U) MP Baidyanath Mahto.
Officials said the final results might be delayed a bit this time as the number of polling stations were raised from 72,723 earlier to 1,06,515, an increase of 46.5 per cent, to ensure adherence to social distancing measures in view of the pandemic.
A total of 3,733 candidates are in the fray, including 371 women and a transgender.
Most exit polls had predicted a rout for the ruling JD(U)-BJP combine and a resounding victory for the Grand Alliance (Mahagathbandhan) led by RJD’s 31-year-old chief ministerial candidate Tejashwi Yadav. However, given the trends today, that doesn’t seem to be happening now.
According to Chief Electoral Officer H R Srinavasa, central armed police forces have been deployed at the strong rooms, where the EVMs have been stored since the completion of voting, and the halls where these are being unsealed now.
Of the state’s 243 assembly constituencies, among the most keenly watched will obviously be Raghopur in Vaishali district from where Tejashwi Yadav is seeking re-election.
Raghopur has been in the past represented by his parents Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi, both former chief ministers.
Nitish Kumar is a member of the state’s legislative council and has not contested the assembly election.
Tejashwi’s elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav is contesting from Hasanpur in Samastipur district.
Tuesday’s counting will also decide the political fate of nearly a dozen of ministers.
Prominent among them are Nand Kishore Yadav (Patna Sahib), Pramod Kumar (Motihari), Rana Randhir (Madhuban), Suresh Sharma (Muzaffarpur), Shrawan Kumar (Nalanda), Jai Kumar Singh (Dinara) and Krishnanandan Prasad Verma (Jehanabad).
Prohibitory orders are in place outside the counting centres to prevent people from gathering in large numbers, officials said.