Indian ruling alliance, opposition neck to neck in first polls during Covid

Patna, India, Nov 10 (efe-epa).- The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the opposition’s Mahagathbandan (grand alliance) were neck-to-neck on Tuesday in preliminary election results for the 243-member state legislative assembly in the eastern Indian state of Bihar.

Voting was held in three phases until Nov. 7 in what marked the first elections in the country since the Covid-19 crisis erupted and is believed to gauge the mood of the people amid the hardship brought by the pandemic.

According to the Election Commission of India, as of 6.30 pm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had won 6 seats and was leading in 67 others, while the Janata Dal (United) had won 2 and was leading in 41. Both are members of the NDA.

Among the Mahagathbandan coalition members, the Rashtriya Janata Dal secured 3 seats and was leading in 71, the Congress had won 1 and was leading in 19, while the Left parties won 1 and were leading in some 16 others.

While the NDA appeared set to reach the majority figurer of 122 with leads in more than 50 percent of the constituencies for most part of the day, the race is actually a lot tighter due to a narrow margin of leads between the contestants, according to local media reports.

The final results are expected to come in close to midnight, which is later than usual for the declaration of the results owing to the Election Commission setting up a greater number of polling booths, keeping in mind the Covid-19 crisis.

The commission also implemented social distancing and other preventive health measures such as wearing face shields and masks, temperature checks, use of hand sanitizers and gloves, among other things, to ensure that the electoral process went ahead smoothly.

Moreover, it had set aside a separate time slot during which Covid-19 patients could come in to vote with adequate safeguards.

The pandemic triggered massive unemployment and economic hardship and exposed a frail healthcare infrastructure, especially in Bihar, and the results are expected to be a verdict of the people on the management of the crisis by the NDA government which is in power both in the state and the center. EFE-EPA


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