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NEW DELHI : Early counting of votes today in Bihar elections shows that Janata Dal (United) leader and chief minister Nitish Kumar could make history by returning to power for the fourth consecutive term. The trends so far put the ruling National Democratic Alliance leading in 127 of the 243-seat assembly. Kumar’s ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, leading in 72 seats as of 1.30PM, could emerge as the single largest party.

The JDU is leading in 46 seats. NDA’s smaller allies like Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) is leading in 7 seats.

Contrary to predictions of most exit polls, early trends put out by the Election Commission of India showed that the Mahagathbandhan is trailing the NDA, with leads in only 105 seats. Its key component, Tejashwai Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), is leading in only 62 seats. Its second largest ally, the Congress, too is limited to a lead in only 21 seats while the Left Parties together are leading in 19 seats.

If the early trends hold true, the verdict would be a shot in the arm for Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP which will win in the state after facing a defeat in previous assembly elections. BJP’s dominant position in the alliance could also get further strengthened if it wins more seat than its ally JDU.

RJD could be forced to go back to the drawing board vis-à-vis its election strategy and alliance approach. It will have to review its own performance considering that in 2015 assembly elections, it was the number one party, winning 80 out of 101 contested seats. In the ongoing elections, it contested 144 seats.

For the Congress which was contesting in 70 seats, the early trends could continue to be symbolic of party’s larger rout in the Hindi speaking belt. In the Lok Sabha elections too, the national opposition party had won only two out of the total 120 parliamentary seats which the two heavyweight states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh together account for.

Bihar election outcome will be significant as it comes ahead of a hectic 2021 when Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala go to polls.

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