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Uncertainty over who will form next Bihar government

Rival alliances lay claim to support of women who voted

Gulf News

Patna: A day ahead of the results of assembly elections in Bihar, an intensive guessing game is on among the common man and experts to assess who is going to form the next government in the state.

The counting of votes in 243 assembly seats will start this morning and the results will possibly be out by the afternoon.

Although the exit polls have predicted a clear and comfortable victory for the ruling National Democratic Alliance, this claim has been very strongly disputed by the rival alliance led by Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and Lok Janshakti Party president Ram Vilas Paswan.

Even the NDA leaders are not saying anything about how many seats they are going to win although they are in a jubilant mood, apparently buoyed over the post-poll surveys.

What has kept the experts guessing about the poll outcome this time is the huge turnout of female voters in all six phases, confusing everyone.

The Election Commission statistics said that in 23 of the 38 districts of Bihar, women outnumbered men in voting while in nine districts, the turnout of voters was more than 60 per cent.

Authorities said the overall poll percentage of female voters was 54.85 per cent against an average 50.70 per cent for male voters.

The confusion has been heightened by the fact that respective alliances in Bihar are claiming the support of women. While the NDA claims women voters were part of its Extremely Backward Castes votes which were recently added to its vote bank, the RJD-LJP coalition claims the women voters largely voted for them.

But analysts differed.

"The huge turnout [by women] indicates they have gone more conscious about their voting rights. This may also be attributed to the 50 per cent reservation to women in local bodies and other initiatives by the NDA government for their empowerment," said Saibal Gupta, secretary of the Asian Development Research Institute, an NGO.

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