The grand alliance led by Tejashwi Yadav made a propitious beginning in early leads as counting of votes for the Bihar assembly elections started at 8 am on Tuesday at centres across the state. Tejashwi Yadav has been fronting the opposition offensive against Nitish Kumar who has been Bihar’s chief minister for 14 of the last years and is the face of the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) campaign.
In very early trends, according to counting data provided by C Voter, the Rashtriya Janata Dal-led alliance is leading in 29 Bihar assembly seats as against the NDA which is ahead in about 17 seats at 8:28 am. There will be many more rounds of counting of votes in the bitterly-fought elections to the 243-member assembly.
The early trends are in line with projections by most exit polls that predicted the 31-year-old, who has emerged from the shadow of his father and RJD founder Lalu Prasad Yadav in the 2020 elections, could halt Nitish Kumar’s juggernaut. This is the first election that Tejashwi has led his party into the state election on his own since father Lalu Prasad Yadav is serving time for the fodder scam.
Nitish Kumar, who has been Bihar chief minister for over 14 years, won the 2015 assembly election in alliance with RJD but switched sides in 2017 when he pole vaulted from the grand alliance with the RJD and Congress into the BJP’s team. Nitish Kumar had then painted Tejashwi Yadav as the villain, attributing his decision to dump the RJD to corruption cases against deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav.
Back then, Nitish Kumar and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had hoped to stitch together a winning combination in 2020. But over the next three years, the NDA in Bihar first lost Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) in 2018 and closer to the state elections, Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), over differences with Nitish Kumar and his party. To be sure, Chirag Paswan has made it clear that his party still supports the BJP at the Centre.
It is Nitish Kumar that he had a problem with. And to get back to him, Chirag Paswan’s party fielded candidates on 137 seats, mostly upper castes in constituencies allocated to the JD(U) to chip away at the NDA’s support base. Exit polls have indicated that Chirag Paswan’s strategy could cost the JD(U) dearly in about two dozen constituencies.
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