10 Nov 2020
Who will govern Bihar? Answer soon as counting begins
The counting of votes for the Bihar Assembly started at 8 am today, capping months of uncertainty on who will govern the crucial state for the next five years.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is facing fierce competition from his former deputy, Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD.
Earlier, most exit polls claimed the Yadav scion will unseat JD(U)'s Kumar.
Here are all the updates.
For 243-seated Bihar Assembly, voters chose pick in three phases
The high-stakes polls, concerning 243 Assembly seats, were held in three phases — on October 28, November 3, and November 7. The polls were also the first large-scale one to be organized in the shadow of coronavirus.
A total of 3,558 candidates, including 370 women and a transgender, tested their fates.
The counting is underway at 55 centers spread across 38 districts.
Exit polls claimed Yadav will be the next CM
Most exit polls had predicted that Kumar would be ousted. They gave nearly 128 seats to Yadav-led mahagathbandhan.
India Today-Axis poll claimed 44% want Yadav to become the CM, while 35% of voters wish to give Kumar another chance in office.
Yadav is the son of former CMs, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi. Yadav Sr. is in jail for corruption.
BJP's bigwigs, including PM Modi, sought votes for Kumar
BJP, which is in alliance with JD(U), sent its heavyweights to the state to garner support for Kumar. Prime Minister Narendra Modi held around 12 rallies in Bihar, urging voters to come in huge numbers and give NDA a majority.
He also wrote a letter to Bihar residents, telling that he "needs" Kumar in the CM's office for the state's development.
BJP promised free coronavirus vaccine for Bihar, triggered row
Last month, BJP had stoked a major controversy by announcing that the coronavirus vaccine would be made available in Bihar for free.
This promise, in BJP's "Sankalp Patra," got it criticism, and it was accused of turning a raging health crisis into a political issue.
Later, BJP, which is in power in the Centre, clarified that other states won't be overlooked.
Yadav promised 10 lakh jobs, BJP 19 lakh
The saffron party also promised 19 lakh jobs in Bihar, to take on Yadav, who slammed NDA over unemployment. Meanwhile, the RJD leader assured 10 lakh jobs.
Unemployment remains a crucial issue, more so after the lockdown enforced in March rendered tens of thousands jobless.
A large chunk of Bihar's migrant workers returned from bigger cities, only to face gloom in their home state.
Chirag Paswan's LJP confident Kumar will not return as CM
Notably, the LJP factor is also in play. Chirag Paswan, the son of late Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, broke ties with JD(U) to fight solo.
His aim of "Nitish-Mukt Bihar (Nitish-free Bihar)" could make a dent in the CM's hopes for another term. Though exit polls gave merely six seats to LJP, the party said their mission of dethroning Kumar was successful.