All eyes will be on exit polls, which will aim to project the outcome of the Bihar assembly elections, in a few hours from now when the voting process in India’s first state polls in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic will end.
The three-phase high decibel Bihar assembly election began on October 28 and will end on Saturday. Votes will be counted on November 10 and results are likely the same day.
The last Bihar assembly polls in 2015 witnessed a contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA without chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal(United) and the Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance. The JD(U) was part of the Mahagathbandhan, which also included the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress. With the changed political equations in the state this year, the JD(U) is now with the BJP.
The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), which was part of the NDA in 2015, has decided to go it alone. The Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), another former ally of the BJP, has joined hands with Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) to form the Grand Secular Democratic Front this year.
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For the Bihar Assembly Election 2020, the RJD is contesting in 144 seats, Congress in 70, and CPI(ML) in 19. From the NDA, the JD(U) is contesting in 115 seats and BJP in 110.
Exit polls, which have been wide off the mark in the past just as in the 2015 Bihar assembly election, had predicted a photo-finish that year but one projected a sweep by the BJP-led NDA. The Grand Alliance of the JD(U), RJD and the Congress wronged all exit polls, a poll of voters taken immediately after they exit the polling stations, in 2015 as it was declared the winner of a shrill and bitterly fought Bihar assembly elections.
News 24-Chanakya had given the BJP and its allies a tally of 155 in the 243-seat House and 83 for the Mahagathbandhan of the JD(U), RJD and Congress. The News X-CNX predicted 130-140 seats for Mahagathbandhan and a survey broadcast by ABP News gave it 130 seats. Two other polls said the combine led by Nitish Kumar had an edge — C-Voter (112-132) and NewsNation (120-124). The ITG-Cicero poll, which was put out by the India Today channel, predicted 113-127 seats for the NDA and 111-123 for the Mahagathbandhan. News 24-Today’s Chanakya said the BJP-led coalition was headed for a comfortable victory with 155 seats.
Axis APM, the only exit poll that hit the bullseye, was not telecast on any television channel though it released the findings on its website. The poll had predicted 169-183 seats for the Grand Alliance and 58-70 for the NDA. It had predicted 58-70 seats for the NDA with the BJP at 40-48, LJP 7-9, HAM 5-6, RLSP 6-7 and 169-183 seats for the Grand Alliance. It had projected the JD(U) would get 70-76, RJD 73-77, Congress 26-30.
Pollsters, however, cannot start exit polls before voting has concluded in all the constituencies, according to the guidelines set by the Election Commission of India. The final outcome whether Kumar will manage a fourth straight term or Tejashwi Prasad Yadav will lead the Mahagathbandhan to victory will only be known on November 10, when the votes will be counted for all the 243 seats in the Bihar assembly.