Nitish can smile, as exit polls give an edge to NDA in Bihar

New Delhi, Nov 13 | Updated: Nov 14 2005, 05:39am hrs
The NDA may finally be able to take its revenge on the RJD and Nitish Kumar may become the next chief minister of Bihar, if exit polls at the end of third phase of elections which ended on Sunday are to be believed.

Exit polls conducted by three different television networks on Sunday evening predicted a clear edge for the JD(U)-BJP combine even though all three polls refrained from giving a full majority to Nitish Kumar. In other words, a fractured verdict was imminent, they said, but with the advantage to the NDA. All three exit polls predicted that the biggest loser was Ram Vilas Paswans LJP, with Zee News giving him as low as 11 seats and Star News most generous at 16 seats. LJP had won 29 seats in the last Assembly.

Reflecting the pro-NDA current, the Zee exit poll said there was a 9% swing in favour of the alliance which gets 35% of the votes polled. It said the RJD-led secular democratic front would get 32% of votes cast, showing no change in voting percentage for the alliance.

The LJP, contesting the elections in alliance with CPI, suffers a 2% hit, getting 12% of the votes cast while independents and others finding favour with 21%.

The Star News/AC Nielson exit poll gave the largest number of seats to the NDA (118) that was just four short of the magic figure of 122 in the 243 member Bihar Assembly. Channel 7 and Zee News, on the other hand, said the NDA would need at least 20 seats for majority.

The RJD-led alliance clearly fell short of the required number with both Star and Zee predicting that it would not even touch the 90-seat mark. Channel 7, however, said the RJD would get 101 seats overall.

Interestingly, Zee predicted an improvement in RJD-Congress combine performance in the 57 seats that went to polls on Sunday. The RJDs key ally, Congress too came up with a better performance with the exit poll increasing its number from 10 to 17. The independents and others appear set to grab 22 seats, the Zee poll added.