The NDA on Wednesday won an absolute majority in the Bihar Assembly election, securing 125 seats in a closely contested election that saw counting continue stretching over 19 hours. The Mahagathbandhan including Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress, and Left parties managed to secure 110 seats in the 243-seat legislative assembly, with the RJD emerging as the single largest party.
But even as the Prime Minister and Home Minister took to Twitter exulting the NDA victory late on Tuesday night, the Rashtriya Janata Dal cried foul. The party alleges that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had made sure that the numbers were tampered with. The party had also shared photos of a three-page print out that contained what they said was the names of 119 winning candidates from the Grand Alliance. .
"The returning officer congratulated them for their victory, but now he is not giving the certificate. He's saying that you have lost. They were also shown as winning on the ECI website. Such loot will not work in a democracy," the RJD tweeted. In a follow up post, the party alleged that officials had backtracked because Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was calling people up to "rig" the situation in the NDA's favour.
The party then gave examples of individuals for whom the results had changed. Postal ballots were allegedly being cancelled and some EVMs were not being counted.
RJD candidate Shakti Singh from the Hilsa assembly constituency was declared victorious by 547 votes by the Returning Officer, the RJD claimed. Soon after the RO "got a call from the CM's residence" and the statement was amended to declare Shakti Singh the losing candidate by 13 votes, the RJD alleged.
Late on Tuesday night, a delegation of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress reached the Election Commission office in Patna on Tuesday night to raise the issue of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar allegedly influencing the counting of votes. After leaving ECI office, RJD leader Manoj Jha who was part of the delegation said that tampering had been done on over a dozen seats in an effort to change "people's mandate" and added that EC has assured the delegation it will "try to address their grievances".
Since then however, the NDA has been declared victors, and it is unclear whether the RJD's grievances have indeed been addressed. Umesh Sinha, Secretary-General of the ECI had denied the allegations of rigging, stating that the Election Commission has never worked under anybody's pressure. In a tweet posted at 12:21 am on Wednesday however, the RJD reiterated their earlier allegations.
"For 4-5 hours, the NDA tally was kept between 122 and the Mahagathbandhan 96-100. Even after stopping this, when the Grand Alliance started gaining an edge, the Chief Minister started calling the District Magistrates directly to manipulate the house," the party added.