The victory margin in 11 seats in Bihar’s 243-member Assembly was less than 1,000, according to the results announced early on Wednesday morning. The margins were narrower in seven constituencies where the difference of votes was less than 500, making this election a fiercely contested battle till the very end.

After the fate of parties hung in the balance all of Tuesday, the ruling National Democratic Alliance was back in power in Bihar on early Wednesday morning with a slender majority. The coalition – that managed to defy all exit polls, surmount anti-incumbency of 15 years, and counter a spirited challenge from a resurgent Opposition – won 125 seats in the 243-member State Assembly. The Opposition Grand Alliance clinched 110.

The race remained too close to call till the last minute, and nowhere was this more evident than Hilsa, where Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United won by a razor-thin margin of just 12 votes. JD(U)’s Krishnamurari Sharan alias Prem Mukhiya won 61,848 votes, while the RJD’s Atri Muni or Shakti Singh Yadav polled 61,836 votes.

Hilsa, along with five seats – Asthawan, Biharsharif, Rajgir, Islampur, Nalanda and Harnaut – falls in the Nalanda Lok Sabha constituency that voted in the second phase of the Bihar elections on November 3. The Nalanda Lok Sabha constituency has been a stronghold of the Janata Dal (United) since the 2009 general election.

In the last Assembly elections of 2015, the seat was won by Shakti Singh Yadav of the RJD. A total of 16 candidates were in the fray at that time. Yadav had defeated LJP’s Deepika Kumari by 26,076 votes.

Results from other seats also showed that the race was extremely close throughout, meandering and changing outcomes by the minute. In Barbigha, after trailing initially, Janata Dal (United) candidate Sudarshan Kumar defeated Congress’ Gajanan Shahi by just 113 votes. In Bhorey, JD(U) leader Sushil Kumar won by mere 462 votes.

In the constituency of Dehri, too, RJD’s Fathebahadur trumped the BJP’s Satya Narayan in Dehri by a mere 464 votes. In Matihani, which is the lone seat bagged by Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, its leader Raj Kumar Singh surpassed JD(U)’s Narendra Kumar Singh by a thin margin of 333 votes.

Another victory of razor-thin margins was seen in Ramgarh, Sudhakar Singh of the Rashtriya Janata Dal triumphed over Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Ambika Singh by mere 189 votes.
Similarly, in Bachhwara the vote margin was less than 500, with BJP’s Surendra Mehata defeating the Communist Party of India leader Abdhesh Rai by just 484 votes.

Other states where the margin of votes was less than 1,000 but more than 500 are: Bakhri (777 votes), Kurhani (712 votes), Chakai (581 votes) and Parbatta (951 votes)

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RJD cries foul

The Rashtriya Janata Dal, which leads the Grand Alliance, remained unsatisfied by the results and alleged voter fraud during the counting process. The party claimed that in Hilsa, its candidate had initially been declared the winner by over 500 votes.

“The Returning Officer had declared RJD candidate Shakti Singh from Hilsa assembly constituency as the winner by 547 votes,” RJD said in a statement, according to PTI. “He was told to wait for issuing the victory certificate. But then the Returning Officer receives a call from the Chief Minister’s residence and the officer suddenly says the RJD candidate has lost by 13 votes due to postal ballots being cancelled.”

The party alleged a deeper conspiracy of the NDA to tamper with the results, and claimed that a returning officer congratulated 119 Grand Alliance candidates for winning the elections, but didn’t give them relevant certificates. These candidates were shown to be winning on the Election Commission’s website also, RJD said, calling it a “loot of the democracy”.