With the NDA inching towards the majority mark of 122 in the first State assembly election during the raging pandemic, the Election Commission ordered the returning officers to undertake recounting in seats where the margin of victory was small.
RJD sitting MLA from Hilsa, for instance, lost the seat to JDU by 13 votes. There were numerous other such instances.
The commission has acted on a written complaint submitted by two RJD leaders to the chief election officer. When results had trickled in at 10.30 pm, the NDA was just two short of majority.
The RJD delegation met CEO late in the night and alleged that recounting of votes had been ordered only in seats where the Opposition alliance (MGB) candidates were winning with a thin margin.
The CEO clarified that, in fairness to all, seat to seat screening of counting would be undertaken. The RJD delegation further alleged that its candidates were leading all day but in the evening they were shown as having been trounced.
Till late in the night, the BJP and the JDU had not begun celebrating, though the party offices were stockpiled with ladoos and firecrackers.
The commission clarified that 3.97 crores votes had been counted thus far and about 5 lakh more votes were to be counted. The results in 149 constituencies have been announced and counting was on in the remaining 94 constituencies.
The RJD has alleged chief minister Nitish Kumar, who "would be in the chair for the next few hours," was putting pressure on the returning officers to delay the declaration of results.
As suspense mounted, with both the RJD-led alliance and the BJP still in the race, the two combines went into a huddle.
The BJP, pleased at having successfully fended off the ant-incumbency sentiment, asserted that this time ‘Dulha Badlega’ – a subtle hint at a change in chief ministership.
There was jubilation in the offices and outside the residences of the leaders of the RJD and the BJP, but the JDU unit was cloaked in silence. Though some enthusiastic party workers came to the JDU office and started beating drums, they were silenced by the principal spokesperson of the party and asked to return to barracks.
As the see-saw battle between the NDA and the Grand Alliance continues till late in the evening, Home Minister Amit Shah rang up Nitish Kumar and thanked him for his leadership during the campaign. Later, he talked to deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi too.
Sources in the BJP indicated Nitish Kumar may propose the name of Sushil Kumar Modi as the leader of the NDA legislature party and as his successor. It is understood that Kumar is firm on not continuing as the chief minister, if the combine cruises through.