By-elections were held for 10 assembly seats in Bihar on Thursday, with 46.42% voters turning up to cast their ballot in what is being seen as a test of parties with disparate views coming together to check the surge of the BJP.
Dubbed as a semi-final to the assembly polls next year, these polls will gauge the people’s mood, especially in light of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal(United) and the Congress uniting to form a grand alliance.
The elections are being seen as a litmus test for RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and former chief minister Nitish Kumar’s experiment to aggressively revive the social justice poll plank to counter the saffron surge in the state.
Stakes are also high for the BJP-led NDA as it faces the challenge of retaining six assembly seats — Narkatianganj, Jale, Chapra, Mohiuddinnagar, Bhagalpur and Hajipur — which it won in the 2010 polls in alliance with the JD(U).
The break-up of voting percentages shows that polling was high in BJP strongholds compared to areas where the JD(U)-led coalition won last time.
Narkatiaganj, a BJP stronghold, registered the highest voter turnout at 57%, while Bhagalpur registered the lowest with 37%. Mohania and Parbatta, where JD(U) and RJD won in 2010, recorded a 45% turnout.
Forty-seven percent polling was registered in Chapra, where RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s wife Rabri Devi, lost the Parliament elections to BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy. Hajipur, with a 46% turnout, is a key seat for the BJP-JD(U) alliance as Lalu and Nitish had started their joint campaign from this seat.
Polling was also held at Banka and Rajnagar.