The Bihar elections could be anyone's game at this point, comments by the Chief Electoral Officer of Bihar, HR Srinivas seem to suggest. While the NDA has taken the lead, crossing the halfway mark, it would seem that a vast majority of the votes are yet to be counted.
"Around 4.10 crore votes were cast, 92 lakh votes counted so far. Earlier there used to be 25-26 rounds of counting, this time it went up to around 35 rounds. So the counting will continue till late evening," Srinivas was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
While the exit polls had projected that the Mahagatbandhan would be at an advantage, the latest numbers projected by the Election Commission of India paint a slightly different image. The ruling NDA in Bihar is ahead of its rivals in more than half of the state's 243 assembly seats, with the BJP appearing set to outperform its senior alliance partner JD(U) headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
As trends from all 243 seats became available at around 12 noon, the NDA constituents were ahead in 125, with BJP candidates leading the table in 72 seats and the JD(U) in only 47. The BJP had contested 110 seats as against the JD(U)'s 115. A party or coalition of parties needs 122 seats for a simple majority -- something that the NDA seems poised to attain. In contrast, the RJD was leading in 65 out of the 144 seats it contested, while the Congress, which had fielded 70 candidates, was ahead in only 21 places. Among other partners of the RJD-led Grand Alliance the CPI-ML was leading in 14, CPI (3) and CPI-M (2).
This year, the counting of votes is expected to take far longer than usual, as there were an increased number of polling stations this year. The number went up by 46.% in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as such, might delay trends and results somewhat. At the same time, the poll body has also increased the number of counting centres to 55 in 38 districts across Bihar, in order to comply with social distancing guidelines.