The Bihar Assembly election finally draws to a close today. The first election held since the Covid pandemic began, voting took place across the state's 243 constituencies in three phases, on October 28, November 3 and November 7. Exit polls predicted a Mahagathbandhan sweep, led by the Rashtriya Janata Dal's Tejashwi Yadav, over the incumbent Nitish Kumar from the National Democratic Alliance.
On NDTV, Prannoy Roys asks whether the NDA will choose Nitish Kumar as the next chief minister. Sanket Upadhyay says that despite JP Nadda saying on record that Nitish will be their CM, you never really know.
Sreenivasan Jain adds, "If the JDU gets anything less than 5-60, Nitish himself wouldn't want to be chief minister."
Any regrets on backing Nitish as chief ministerial candidate? BJP spokesperson Ashok Sinha says: "No regrets. It was a real thought out plan. NDA will surge ahead...As far as early results are concerned, this is the worst that NDA could have seen in one hour of postal ballot counting. Henceforth, I think it will be NDA which will surge ahead."
Rajdeep Sardesai on India Today says: “NDA has touched 100. That’s psychologically important.”
Panelist Rajat Sethi, author and political analyst, says: “All the leading stalwarts of BJP, like Amit Malviya and Swapan Dasgupta, had come out and had conceded defeat way too early. This is like Joe Biden."
NDTV India's Kanhaiya Bhelari says: "I told Nitish Kumar that society should have all kinds of people like Mandela, Gandhi and current politicians, but he was adamant to feed everyone only goat's milk. He thought prohibition would make him PM." His analogy for prohibition is forcing everyone to drink goat's milk.
Rahul Kanwal asks: “Are we seeing a stunning comeback by the NDA? 127 (NDA) vs 98 (RJD+). Manoj Tiwari, is there a song that comes to your mind before I let you go?”
BJP leader Manoj Tiwari immediately breaks into a song on BJP and Bihar. After he finishes singing, he says: "I'm feeling very good, Rahul. It's 11am now and right now, this trend is very important for us"
On NDTV India, one of the panellists, Sudeep Srivastava, explains that gains in vote share for Mahagathbandhan are misleading when compared to 2015 because back then the JDU was part of the alliance with the RJD and the Congress. The RJD alone hasn't gained so many votes compared to the last election.
Nudged about Axis My India's poll predictions not reflecting the current trends, the polling agency's chairman Pradeep Gupta tells India Today's anchors to wait until 3 pm as only 10 percent of the votes have been counted so far.
His panellists are pulling Ravish Kumar's leg about how paranoid he is regarding coronavirus. Ravish responds by spraying sanitizer in the studio and saying, "I got biscuits in my pocket today. There is no plate in front of me! Must take precautions."
Navika Kumar sits as a panellist on Times Now. She says, "The ball is in Nitish Kumar's court. As far as Modi and the BJP are concerned, they are going to honor their commitment and keep Nitish as their face. If not for the full 5 years, definitely for now. The fact is that vote has been cast for Nitish's face in Bihar. It will then depend on Kumar to hand it over to BJP, because frankly he doesn't have a legacy to give."
Asked if the mood at the BJP headquarters has changed, Sanket Upadhyay of NDTV laughs and says, “Yes, any election that they are winning or losing, this is a party that always tried to project that they are winning...that level of confidence has always existed in this new BJP...In the morning they said let’s wait for the trends and the moment the numbers flipped suddenly the very same BJP spokesperson said, 'See we told you.' So you see the spring in their step now.”
Zakka Jacob on CNN-News18 points out that five rounds of counting are done but there are 25 more to go, so the picture might change drastically.
On News Nation, a graphic shows Nitish Kumar dancing and calls him "Diwali Jingalala". To this, the anchor Deepak Chaurasia says, "Arey, what sort of dance was Kumar doing? Was it hip-hop, rock and roll, twist? What have you made him dance to? What will Tejasvi sing then? Meri kismat mein tu nahi." The graphic then shows Tejasvi Yadav dancing with a bomb and says, "Diwali see pehle diwala."
Pranoy Roy on NDTV says a local TV channel in Bihar is projecting 117 and 118 seats for MGB and NDA, while all national channels are showing NDA in lead. "We must restrain ourselves from calling the election."
Rahul Shivshankar on Times Now: "Khan market gang's narrative has been exposed, stop ridiculing national channels. People should watch national channels in plenitude."
Kailash Vijayvargiya of the BJP tell Sanket Upadhyay on NDTV that the incumbent coalition fought the election under Nitish Kumar's leadership and "for now I'll say he is the CM. Rest I'll tell you in the evening".
Talking about the caste consolidation in this election, Deepak Chaurasia on News Nation declares there is always a fear in Bihar that if the Muslims and the Yadavs come together, "they'll create havoc in the state".
On Times Now, Ghanshyam Tiwari congratulates Nitish Kumar for winning a 4th term. The anchor Padmaja Joshi asks, "You're congratulating Nitish Kumar, but won't you congratulate the single largest party, BJP?"
Tiwari duly obliges. RSS remarks, "OK, let's get you off your high horse, Mr Tiwari, and look at the numbers."
On Mojo Story, Sankarshan Thakur of the Telegraph says Nitish Kumar is an aging leader without a party. This election clearly shows that Bihar is moving towards a bipolarity between the BJP and the RJD.
In a rare feat, Padmaja Joshi is not letting Rahul Shivshankar speak on Times Now. "Please let me finish, please let me finish, you are not letting me finish," RSS complains.
He then launches into a monologue about why the NDA is winning which ends with, "That's why the Left media needs to introspect."
Times Now doesn’t forget to remind their viewers that on this particular day, they are being responsible.
Rahul Shivshankar says: “Times Now has been very responsible all through the day by sticking to official data that’s been coming through. It’s been a bit slow, viewers, but it’s been rewarding.”
Rahul Kanwal of India Today asks Amit Malviya, the head of the BJP IT cell, if he is breathing easy now.
Malviya says: “To be honest, we were always confident that we will go over the red line. I didn’t want to sound despondent or exuberant when I came on the exit polls because clearly I didn’t want to indulge in a lot of euphoria that goes around the numbers…”
Kanwal says: “You’re entitled to a few potshots at this time, go for it." Rajdeep Sardesai chips in: “You can spatter us in the evening. Keep all your egg yolk ready for us in the evening if we’ve gone horribly wrong."
On India Today, BJP’s Amit Malviya smiles and says: “I want to say a big hello to Rajdeep. You should not have opened the champagne looking at the exit polls...So, Rajdeep, drink your sorrows in the evening with a bottle if that’s still around. Good luck to you while you count and suffer this few hours on television as we continue to…”
Rajdeep cuts in: “Amit, you’re very nice and generous to me. That was potshot number 5. I don’t drink champagne, I don’t like champagne. It’s not my preferred drink. I will tell you what my preferred drink is off the camera."
Deputy election commissioner Chandrabhushan Kumar says: "Counting is not slow, more EVMs had to be accounted for. Compared to 2015, there has been an increase in the number of polling centres so number of EVMs had also increased. There has been an increase in the number of postal ballots as well. There is no question of slow counting."
Navika Kumar on Times Now jubilantly says, “Everybody was talking about how it has gone only one way, which is against the Modi government, against the Nitish government. We brought in the factor on the Garib Kalyan Yojna and the money into the bank accounts of each of these beneficiaries. That seems to have worked as an X factor in favor of the BJP...But the biggest X factor is that Rahul Gandhi has this uncanny ability of pulling everything down with him.”
Analysing the break-up of votes in Mithila, Times Now's Padmaja Joshi says, "This is an area where this is a caste stronghold of the BJP. This is the area of Bhumihars...the upper-caste Hindus...So, they have managed to expand their footprint in a locality which was theirs anyway."
Rahul Shivshankar chips in: "And this is where Mr Modi raked up references to 'jungle raj' so it seems to have had an impact, as well as having...dissuaded voters from falling for the Mahagathbandhan."
NDTV asks BJP leader Vijay Jolly if his party will now want to dictate political terms to its ally in Bihar, JDU, and if they will still retain Nitesh Kumar as the chief minister. Jolly replies, “We will take a decision when we come to the bridge. We will take a decision to cross the bridge.”
Republic anchor is very upset that a panellist keeps saying that the results might change till late tonight, since counting is not done.
"But tell us what you think based on the numbers on your screen!" she says. "You've been saying since morning have patience, how much more patience do you need?"
Panellist responds meekly, "I'm not saying this, the Election Commission is saying this."
Psephologist Sanjay Kumar on Aaj Tak: "I dont think voters have voted differently. The difference is more palpable in Maithilanchal and Seemanchal regions, where Muslim voters are in a majority, with around 30 percent and 20 percent respectively. Seeing the results, it now seems there has been a division in the Muslim vote by Owaisi because of which NDA has profited."
Rahul Kanwal says there are 21 seats with a margin of less than 1,000. "And RJD is leading in a disproportionate amount of those. Sixteen for RJD and 5 for BJP."
On India Today, a reporter says BJP supporters have calmed down and are quiet. Goes on to ask a supporter, "Why are you silent suddenly?"
Supporters suddenly start screaming, sloganeering and say, "No, no we are very excited! Modiji will win!"