Supporters of Janata Dal (United) celebrate in Patna. Aftab Alam Siddiqui/AP
Gulf Today Report
India’s ruling party and its allies have returned to power in Bihar on Wednesday. The results on the Election Commission site indicated that it crossed the majority mark of 122 seats in the 243-member house.
The vote results in a key state election are seen as a barometer of Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic downturn.
The NDA comprising the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal United, Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) won 125 seats in all.
Bihar in eastern India is its second-most populous state and one of its poorest.
Supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gather to celebrate in Gandhinagar, India. Reuters
The Lok Janshakti Party, which had quit the NDA in the state in the run-up to the October-November elections, ended up with one seat.
Control of the key electoral battleground is seen as a referendum on Modi’s popularity.
His opponents have criticized what they call his government's inept handling of the pandemic, which has led to more than 127,000 death so far nationwide.
Modi’s party and his alliance partner are pitted against the resurgent Rashtriya Janata Dal party, led by a 31-year-old Tejashwi Yadav.
The remaining seats were divided among Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM which won five, while the Bahujan Samaj Party won one. One Independent was also elected.
BJP Bihar state President Sanjay Jaiswal with minister Nityananand Rai (right), talks to the media, in Patna. AP
Modi’s second term has been marked by a shrinking economy, widening social strife, numerous protests against discriminatory laws and the government reaction to the pandemic.
India’s tally of confirmed cases - the second largest in the world behind the United States - stands at more than 8.5 million.
Modi’s overall popularity remains unmatched in India, but his party faced tougher-than-expected challenges in recent state polls.
Over the past two years, Modi’s party has lost six state elections and gained power only in two. Despite the party’s sweeping victory to a second term in May 2019, the BJP suffered a major setback when it lost two key coalition partners in northern Punjab and western Maharashtra.
"I have resigned as the CM. All MPs and MLAs of the JD(U) are at a consensus that we should leave the NDA," Kumar told reporters outside the Raj Bhawan.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made for polling, as well as norms put in place to maintain social distancing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Polling began amid tight security arrangements for 94 assembly constituencies in 17 districts of Bihar from 7am on Tuesday for the second phase of assembly elections. Foolproof security arrangements have been made for voting
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