Bihar Elections: Record improvement in voter turnout in 1st Phase

57% Voter Turnout in First Phase of Bihar Polls

57% Voter Turnout in First Phase of Bihar Polls
The first phase of voting closed yesterday and the positive news is that the overall voter turnout was 57%, which is 6.15% higher than 50.85% in the 2010 Assembly elections. Women beat their male counterparts, when 59.5% of women voters came out to vote as against 54.5% male voters. The voting took place for 49 assembly seats and covered 10 districts.

A comparison of voter turnout between 2010 and 2015 Assembly elections reveals how citizens of Bihar have responded to these elections. The results have been very positive and encouraging, as there has been a record increase in voter turnout, in all constituencies that went to vote. The fact that women voters have turned out in larger numbers than men shows that the traditional mindset of women in Bihar is now changing into one that is more aware and assertive of her rights and is willing to come out to exercise her franchise in favour of whichever candidate she deems fit.

If this trend continues, Bihar could well set a new trend in politics which citizens, especially women, from other states can learn from. It is hoped that the remaining four phases will continue this positive trend for both men and women voters.

Voting percentage in 2010 / 2015 / Difference

Samastipur: 54.20% / 60% / +5.80%
Begusarai: 55.85% / 59% / +3.15%
Khagaria: 57.20% / 61% / +3.80%
Bhagalpur: 50.09% / 56% / +5.91%
Banka: 49.34% / 58% / +8.66%
Munger: 48.35% / 55% / +6.65%
Lakhisarai: 48.33% / 54% / +5.67
Sheikhpura: 50.58% / 55% / +4.42%
Nawada: 45.04% / 53% / +7.96%
Jamui: 49.49% / 57% / +7.51%

Interpreting some of the highest voter turnout constituencies

Banka has surprised with the highest percentage increase in voter turnout of 8.66%. In 2010, Javed Iqbal Ansari, RJD, beat Ram Narayan Mandal, BJP, by a narrow margin of 2,410 votes. The difference is too small for comfort for RJD, which is now fielding Zafrul Hoda. The BJP however, is fielding the same candidate Ram Narayan Mandal. Since Muslims in Banka are around 14.15% of the Hindu population, the significant increase in voter turnout is likely to go in favour of the BJP candidate who is the same candidate as in 2010. RJD has a tough fight on its hands in this one.

Nawada registered the second highest percentage increase in turnout at 7.96%. The constituency has a large support base of JD(U) and RJD. During 2010, Purnima Yadav, JD(U), beat Rajballabh Prasad, RJD, by a narrow margin of 6,337 votes. In 2015, Purnima Yadav, JD(U), has made way for Rajballabh Prasad, RJD, who is contesting the same seat but with JD(U) to support him. With the increase in voters, it would point to a strong showing in favour of the RJD candidate. BJP has let go this seat in favour of alliance partner Indradeo Prasad, RLSP, but he will find it tough in this JD(U)–RJD stronghold.

Jamui registered the third highest percentage increase in turnout at 7.51%. In 2010, Ajay Pratap, JD(U), beat Vijay Prakash, RJD, by 24,467 votes. Ajay Pratap has since left JD(U) and had joined HAM-S when Nitish Kumar removed Jitan Manjhi. Ajay Pratap’s father Narendra Singh continues to be a senior party member with HAM-S but he has been given a ticket by the BJP to contest from Jamui.

His fight is going to be with his earlier rival Vijay Prakash, RJD. Jamui has a significant Dalit and Mahadalit population that will be rooting for Ajay Pratap, BJP, since he represents the NDA in which HAM is an alliance partner. The increase in voters may just favour Ajay Pratap but then he also has to contend with Pramod Kumar Mandal, BSP, who will also be fighting for the Dalit-Mahadalit votes. This could impact Ajay Pratap’s vote share.

Munger returned the next best figures at 6.65% increase. This is a constituency which is dominated by Yadavs and Muslims. In 2010, Anant Kumar Satyarthy, JD(U), defeated Shabnam Perwin, RJD, by 17,613 votes. What is significant is that neither candidate is contesting the seat this time. JD(U) has made way for the Yadav veteran Vijay Kumar ‘Vijay’, RJD and his fight will be with young Pravav Kumar, BJP, who is also a Yadav.

BJP is making an attempt to break into this constituency by fielding a Yadav, but will face strong resistance from the JD(U)-RJD-Muslim vote bank that will continue to dominate this constituency. The increase in voter turnout is likely to favour ‘Vijay’. The only disadvantage that Vijay Kumar ‘Vijay’ may face is from Syed Mohammed Jawed, NCP, who may split the Muslim votes thus weakening ‘Vijay’s’ vote share.

Bhagalpur follows Munger in voter turnout with a 5.91% increase. Bhagalpur has been a traditional stronghold of the RSS and by extension, the BJP, which has held this constituency for over twenty years. In 2010 assembly polls, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, BJP, and four-term MLA from Bhagalpur, defeated Ajeet Sharma, INC, another local veteran with a strong party following. However, Ashwini Kumar vacated the seat to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. In the bypolls, Ajeet Sharma, INC, won and has since been a popular face in Bhagalpur.

This year, Ashwini Kumar Choubey is fielding his young son Arjit Shaswat Choubey, BJP. This has not gone down well with party veteran Vijay Shah, BJP, who many agree was the man behind Ashwini Kumar Choubey’s success in Bhagalpur. He was expecting the party nomination but was denied in favour of Ashwini’s son. Vijay Shah has since rebelled and is fighting the elections as an Independent. His exit is likely to further strengthen Ajeet Kumar, INC, since Arjit Shaswat Choubey is a political novice in the area. The increase in voter turnout could favour Ajeet Kumar, INC.

Samastipur has recorded an increase in voter turnout of 5.80%, which is close to that of Bhagalpur. Since both are large cities with a sizeable population, the increase is going to make an impact on the voting outcome. In 2010 assembly polls, Akhtarul Islam Shaheen, RJD, defeated Ramnath Thakur, JD(U), by a narrow margin of 1,827 votes. Samastipur has a significant Yadav and Muslim population. The last time RJD and JD(U) were opponents but this time as allies, JD(U), has made way in favour of the sitting MLA Akhtarul Islam Shaheen, RJD.

This is likely to strengthen his fight against Renu Kumari (Kushwaha), BJP. Renu Kumari was earlier with JD(U) when she quit the Nitish Kumar government in 2014, just before the Lok Sabha polls. She is likely to face a tough opponent in Akhtarul Shaheen, who has a strong base amongst the Muslim community and now has support of the Yadavs as well. The additional voters in these elections are likely to go in RJD’s favour.


Related Information:
Bihar Elections 2015
Bihar Election Updates
Bihar Election Dates
Candidate List for Bihar Assembly Elections 2015
List of Assembly Constituencies of Bihar
Bihar Election Results
Political Parties of Bihar
Who will be the next Bihar Chief Minister?
List of Chief Ministers (CM) of Bihar
Government and Politics of Bihar
List of Governors of Bihar
Bihar Map