The ruling coalition NDA in Bihar, has won 125 seats in the 243-member state assembly against 110 clinched by the opposition Grand Alliance to pave the way for a fourth successive term for Nitish Kumar in office.
Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) came down to 43 seats this time around, from 71 in 2015. Kumar was then a partner in the Grand Alliance which included Lalu Prasad’s RJD and the Congress.
RJD, under the leadership of Tejashwi Yadav, the younger son and heir to party supremo Lalu Prasad helmed, has emerged as the single largest party with 75 seats. The BJP, which led the table for several hours during the counting that dragged on for over 16 hours, finished second with a tally of 74 seats.
Despite the slump in numbers, Kumar, who was declared the NDA’s chief ministerial candidate by the BJP brass, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief J P Nadda, is set to take over the reins of the government.
Apart from BJP’s 74 seats and JD(U)’s 43, the ruling alliance partners HAM and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) won four seats each.
The drastic fall in the number of JD(U) MLAs, however, will likely make the BJP, which hitherto played a second fiddle to Kumar, more assertive, and it may insist on a larger share in the ministerial pie and greater say in governance.
Owaisi’s AIMIM won five seats. The party had gained a foothold winning a seat in a by-election in Bihar earlier, but made significant inroads into the Seemanchal region which has a large presence of Muslim voters. Its ally BSP also clinched one seat.
Kumar, who has a clean image and is considered incorruptible, has been credited with ridding the state of the “jungle raj”, as the Lalu-Rabri government of 15 years preceding 2005 is often described by its critics.
The JD(U) leader also earned praise for his impetus on infrastructure development and improving health care system and education.
The Left too made big gains. They has aligned with the RJD-Congress combine. The biggest gainer was the CPI-ML, which clinched 12 seats, followed by the CPI and CPI-M (two each). Barring the CPI-ML, which had three seats in the outgoing assembly, none of the Left parties had a presence in the House.
Brothers Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap won the Raghopur and Hasanpur seats with impressive margins of 38,174 and 21,139 votes respectively.
Prominent losers from the RJD included Abdul Bari Siddiqui, a former state party chief, and Lalu Prasad’s Man Friday Bhola Yadav who lost from Keoti and Hayaghat seats in Darbhanga respectively.
Senior Bihar minister Vijendra Prasad Yadav of JD(U) won from Supual, and Niraj Singh Babloo of the BJP, a cousin of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, whose mysterious death became an election issue, retained the Chhatapur seat.
State assembly speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary of the JD(U) was among the victors.
Ace former shooter and Commonwealth gold medalist Shreyasi Singh of BJP won the Jamui seat by over 41,000 votes, but veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadav’s daughter Subhashini lost in Bihariganj.
HAM president Jitan Ram Manjhi defeated former state assembly speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary in Imamganj of Gaya district.