Bihar Assembly Election 2020: Exit polls give edge to RJD-led alliance - Hindustan Times
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Bihar Assembly Election 2020: Exit polls give edge to RJD-led alliance

Hindustan Times, New Delhi/ Patna | BySubhash Pathak, Aurangzeb Naqshbandi and Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Nov 08, 2020 12:38 AM IST

Five of eight major exit polls backed the GA – comprising the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress and three Left parties – to outpace the NDA and cross the majority mark of 122 in the 243-member assembly.

The Opposition Grand Alliance (GA) could edge out the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in a closely contested election in Bihar, a clutch of exit polls predicted after voting ended on Saturday, flagging anti-incumbency and jobs as issues that shaped the outcome.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav addresses an election campaign rally for Assembly polls, at Bochha in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar, Thursday.(PTI)
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav addresses an election campaign rally for Assembly polls, at Bochha in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar, Thursday.(PTI)

Five of eight major exit polls backed the GA – comprising the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress and three Left parties – to outpace the NDA and cross the majority mark of 122 in the 243-member assembly.

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CHANNEL/AGENCY JDU+ RJD+ LJP Others
Times Now-CVoter 116 120 01 06
NewsX-DVResearch 110-117 108-123 04-10 08-23
News 18-Today’s Chanakya 55 180 - 08
India Today-Axis My India 69-91 139-161 03-05 06-10

Two polls forecast a thumping majority for the GA and only one said that the NDA – composed of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal (United), Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular and Vikassheel Insaan Party – may cross the halfway mark.

The polls also indicated that the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), which walked out of the NDA in the state and put up candidates largely against the JD(U), could perform poorly but hurt the ruling alliance’s vote share in several seats. In all, the election was largely seen as a two-horse fight with smaller parties and independents squeezed out.

The Bihar assembly polls, spread over three phases in what was the first mass election since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country, was fought on questions of employment, governance and handling of the infection that has claimed 1,100 lives in the impoverished state.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar was seeking his fourth consecutive term, squaring off against RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, whose promise of one million government jobs galvanised young people and drove huge crowds to his 200-plus rallies.

Results are out on Tuesday.

To be sure, exit polls are not completely accurate and have frequently got it wrong in earlier elections, especially in states with diverse populations, castes and communities as Bihar. In 2015, a plurality of exit polls predicted the BJP will win the state but the results saw the Opposition GA – of which the JD(U) was a part before severing ties in 2017 – win a decisive majority.

But if these exit poll numbers hold, it could mean a significant surprise because as recently as the 2019 general elections, the NDA won 39 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats – which translated to a tally of 220-plus assembly constituencies. The numbers, if they are correct, will also signify a personal triumph for Yadav, who led his party in the absence of his father and former chief minister Lalu Prasad, who missed an assembly election campaign for the first time in four decades.

If the exit poll forecast matches the actual result, it could also see a lot of post-results political developments, especially if the GA falls marginally short of a majority.

In 2015, the GA won 178 of the 243 seats – 80 for the RJD, 71 for the JD(U) and 27 for the Congress. The BJP won 53 seats. In 2017, JD(U) exited the GA and joined hands with the BJP with Kumar continuing as CM.

After the exit polls, the BJP took heart in the narrow margins predicted by several pollsters. “What is surprising is that if the exit polls are any indication, change does not come in small numbers. This perhaps indicates an undercurrent that may reverse the story of the exit polls,” said party spokesperson Tom Vadakkan. Another senior party functionary said exit polls have a track record of going wrong. It’s ally JD(U) said that there was no doubt about the success of NDA. “Just wait for a few more days and all the expectations of GA leaders would come crashing,” said spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan Prasad.

RJD national spokesperson Manoj Jha exuded confidence that the GA will win a majority. Congress said the GA will emerge a clear winner. “Bihar is on the verge of change. It has voted for change, for jobs, for better price of crops, for industries and businesses and for a new government and youth power,” party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

Five polls predicted a slim victory for the Opposition.

Times Now-CVoter gave NDA 116 and GA 120. ABP-CVoter gave NDA between 104 and 128 seats and GA between 108 and 131. Republic TV-JanKiBaat gave NDA between 91 and 117 seats, and GA between 118 and 138. TV9-Bharatvarsh gave NDA between 110 and 120 seats, and GA between 115 and 125. NewsX-DVresearch gave NDA between 110 and 117 seats, and GA between 108 and 123.

Two polls gave a sweeping majority to the Opposition.

News18-Today’s Chanakya gave NDA between 44 and 66 seats, and GA between 169 and 191. India Today-AxisMyIndia gave NDA between 69 and 81 seats, and GA between 139 and 161 seats. Only one poll gave the decisive edge to the NDA.

Dainik Bhaskar gave NDA 120-127 seats and GA 71-81 seats.

In at least two exit polls, the BJP was projected to be the bigger partner in the NDA – a big reversal of roles in the state where the JD(U) was traditionally the senior partner in the alliance.

The exit polls forecast three broad trends. One, the election may have been defined by rising anti-incumbency sentiment against Kumar, who was seen struggling to deal with the migrant crisis, rising local aspirations and demand for jobs. Two, Yadav’s promise of one million government jobs in a state with poor industrialisation was predicted to have struck a chord and the 31-year-old leader may net support from young people, in addition to the RJD’s traditional caste coalition. Three, LJP and smaller formations such as the Grand Democratic Secular Front (GDSP), comprising All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, may not have made a dent in terms of seats but damaged the major alliances in some pockets.

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