Exit polls go awry in Bihar

Exit polls go awry in Bihar
PATNA, NOV 10 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 11/10/2020 12:34:32 PM IST

NDA likely to have wafer thin majority

Defying the exit polls that predicted victory for the Tejashwi Yadav-led Mahagathbandhan, comprising Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and Left parties, an edge of seat contest unfolded Tuesday night in Bihar as the ruling NDA appeared inching towards a simple majority in the 243-member assembly.

BJP claimed victory in Bihar assembly polls for the National Democratic Alliance even as the counting for 50 seats were still underway. The ruling coalition headed by JD(U) spuremo and chief minister Nitish Kumar was ahead in (or has won) 124 seats, according to data at 11.40 p.m. Tuesday, but the opposition alliance was trailing by only 13 seats.

If the present results and trends available are any indication of things to come, the NDA will end up with 122 seats, just the half-way mark required to form the government, and the opposition Mahagathbandhan 113. Any slip-up at the last moment with throw up a hung assembly and bolster the RJD’s claim of being invited first to form the government being the single largest party. 

However, it will depend on the governor whether he decides to invite the single largest party or the biggest pre-poll alliance to form the government first in the event of a hung House.

The RJD looks set to emerge as the single-largest party in the House with 77 seats, having won 55 and leading in 22. The BJP, which has won 48 seats and is leading in 24, will finish second with 72 seats likely in its kitty. The AIMIM of Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi has sprung a surprise, clinching four seats in the Seemanchal region having a large Muslim population and is leading in one seat. Its Grand Democratic Secular Front ally, the BSP, has pocketed one seat.

Chirag Paswan’s LJP, which had walked out of the NDA just ahead of the polls and gone to the hustings alone, finally opened its account, winning just one seat.

Meanwhile, the opposition alliance led by Tejashwi Yadav said it had won 119 seats, a claim dismissed by the Election Commission. “About an hour ago at 9 pm, a message was broadcast by a political party on social media that it has won 119 seats. Our website is in the public domain. The factual status is that we have published results for 146 seats while for 97 seats we have published trends till then,” Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan said. 

RJD-Cong cry foul: EC says not under anyone’s pressure

Against the backdrop of allegations by RJD and Congress that some results were being withheld by returning officers in Bihar, the Election Commission asserted that it was working with due diligence and was not under anyone’s pressure.

Responding to allegations that victory certificates were not been handed over to candidates from the opposition grand alliance by returning officers on 119 seats, the EC said the latest figures on its website state that while 146 results have been declared and trends of 97 other seats were available. 

Dy Election Commissioner in charge of Bihar CB Kumar asserted that the figures available were “authentic” as they have been sent by respective returning officers after completing all formalities. He said the figure of 119 seats was seen on social media platforms an hour ago. But the latest and “authentic” figure were in public domain now on the EC result website.

Addressing the media for the third time on counting in Bihar amid the coronavirus pandemic, the EC Secretary General said he wants to make it clear on behalf of the Commission that its officials and its election machinery is carrying out counting with due diligence.

“Aayog kabhi bhi kisi ke dabav mein nahin raha hai (The Commission has never worked under anyone’s pressure)”, he asserted.

Sinha had earlier said by tonight most of the results would be announced, while the rest would be out late tonight. He was asked whether all the results would be announced by Wednesday morning.

Commission officials said nearly 1.6 lakh postal ballots were electronically transferred to service votes. Nearly 52,000 postal ballots were used by people above 80 years of age and those with disabilities.

They also rejected allegations that counting of postal ballots was stopped midway. They said at no location, counting was stopped.

Kumar said as per an the EC direction of May 2019, if the winning margin is less than the postal ballots found to be invalid, then the recount of such invalid postal ballots has to be carried out.

He said the postal ballots are rejected and declared invalid after being mandatorily validated by the returning officer.

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