Nitish-led NDA retains power in Bihar, RJD single-largest party

File Photo: Chief Minister Nitish Kumar . (Photo Courtesy: @NitishKumar/Twitter)

File Photo: Chief Minister Nitish Kumar . (Photo Courtesy: @NitishKumar/Twitter)

New Delhi, November 11 (IANS): In a dramatic close contest in the Bihar Assembly elections, it was the BJP that took Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led ruling NDA coalition to victory, surmounting anti-incumbency of 15 years in the state.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) secured 125 seats and crossed magic mark of 122 seats in the 243-member house, surging ahead of the key opposition Grand Alliance known as Mahagathbandhan that could manage 110 seats even after the Tejashwi Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) emerged as the single largest party with 75 seats.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) became the second single largest party by getting 74 seats-- a face changer in the polls -- with five-time Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United (JDU) securing 43 seats and other NDA partners Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) and former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) winning four seats each.

Of the Grand Alliance 110 seats, RJD's allies Congress won 19 seats and the Left parties secured 16 seats -- the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist (Liberation) winning 12, Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India-Marxist won two seats each.

The remaining seats were divided among Asaduddin Owaisi's All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) which won five followed by one seat each by Chirag Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). One Independent was also elected.

Counting of votes, which got underway at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, concluded late in the night and the final results were declared by the Election Commission at 4.30 a.m. on Wednesday for the three-phase Bihar Assembly elections that may herald a new era in the state politics, declining many exit polls predictions which indicated victory for the RJD-led Grand Alliance.

Despite the slump in numbers, Nitish Kumar, who was declared the NDA's Chief Ministerial candidate by the BJP brass, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief J.P. Nadda, is set to take over the reins of the government.

AIMIM emerged as a surprise package in the polls by winning five seats, which had gained a foothold after winning a seat in a by-election in Bihar earlier. It made significant inroads into the Seemanchanchal region which has a large presence of the Muslim voters. However, Chirag's LJP, which gained two seats in 2015, could only clinch one seat for the party.