Elections in Bihar

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Elections in Bihar state, India are conducted in accordance with the Constitution of India. The Assembly of Bihar creates laws regarding the conduct of local body elections unilaterally while any changes by the state legislature to the conduct of state level elections need to be approved by the Parliament of India. In addition, the state legislature may be dismissed by the Parliament according to Article 356 of the Indian Constitution and President's rule may be imposed.

Bihar electoral system[edit]

National level representation[edit]

Lok Sabha delegation[edit]

The Indian general election, 2009 in Bihar were held for 40 seats with the state going to polls in the first four phases of the general elections. The major contenders in the state were the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Indian National Congress and the Fourth Front. NDA consisted of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal (United) whereas the fourth front was constituted of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP).

Rajya Sabha delegation[edit]

Both the houses of the state legislature jointly nominate Members of Parliament to the Rajya Sabha.The Rajya Sabha or Council of States is the upper house of the Parliament of India. Membership of Rajya Sabha is limited by the Constitution to a maximum of 250 members, and current laws have provision for 245 members. Most of the members of the House are indirectly elected by state and territorial legislatures using single transferable votes, while the President of India can appoint 12 members for their contributions to art, literature, science, and social services. Members sit for staggered six-year terms, with one third of the members retiring every two years.

State level representation[edit]

Main article: Bihar State Assembly

Legislative assembly[edit]

Bihar legislature assembly has 243 seats. For the election of its members, the state is divided into 243 Assembly Constituencies in which the candidate securing the largest number of votes is declared elected. In the Bihar Assembly Elections, 2010, the National Democratic Alliance formed the state government having secured a simple majority of 206 seats.[1] Bihar Legislative Assembly came into existence in 1937. The Assembly had a strength of 152 members. According to the provisions of the Constitution of India, the first General Elections in the state were held in 1952. The total strength of membership in the Assembly was 331, including one nominated member. Dr Sri Krishna Singh became the first Leader of the house and the Chief Minister and Dr Anurag Narayan Sinha was elected the first deputy leader of the assembly and became state's first Deputy Chief Minister. It was reduced to 318 during the second General Elections. In 1977, the total number of elected members of the Bihar Legislative Assembly was further raised from 318 to 324. With the creation of a separate State of Jharkhand, by an Act of Parliament titled the Bihar Reorganisation Act, 2000, the strength of the Bihar Legislative Assembly was reduced from 325 to 243 members. The current Nitish Kumar government is a minority, powered by the Congress, RJD and CPI to majority status

Legislative Council[edit]

The upper house known as the Legislative Council has lesser powers than the Assembly and several of its members are nominated by the Assembly. Others are elected from various sections of the society like Graduates and Teachers. Currently the Legislative Council consists of 95 members. A new Province of Bihar and Orissa was created by the British Government on 12 December 1911. The Legislative Council with a total of 43 members belonging to different categories was formed in 1912. The first sitting of the Council was convened on 20 January 1913. In 1936, Bihar attained its separate Statehood. Under the Government of India Act, 1919, the unicameral legislature got converted into bicameral one, i.e. the Bihar Legislative Council and the Bihar Legislative Assembly. Under the Government of India Act, 1935, the Bihar Legislative Council consisted of 29 members. After the first General Elections 1952, the number of members was increased up to 72 and by 1958 the number was raised to 96. With the creation of Jharkhand, as a result of the Bihar Reorganisation Act, 2000 passed by the Parliament, the strength of the Bihar Legislative Council has been reduced from 96 to 75 members

History of elections in Bihar[edit]

Assembly election[edit]

Year Election Total Seat[2] Winner Winner's seat Chief Minister 1st Runner up 2nd Runner up
1951 1st Assembly 276 1931 Flag of India.svg INC 239 Sri Krishna Sinha  ??  ??
1957 2nd Assembly 318 1931 Flag of India.svg INC 210 Sri Krishna Sinha
Deep Narayan Singh
Binodanand Jha
 ??  ??
1962 3rd Assembly 264 1931 Flag of India.svg INC 185 Binodanand Jha
Krishana Ballabh Sahay
 ??  ??
1967 4th Assembly 318 1931 Flag of India.svg INC 128 Mahamaya Prasad Sinha,JKD
Satish Prasad Singh,INC
B. P. Mandal,INC
Bhola Paswan Shashtri,INC(O)
1969 5th Assembly 318 none None Harihar Singh,INC
Bhola Paswan Shashtri,INC(O)
President's rule
Daroga Prasad Rai,INC
Karpuri Thakur,Socialist Party
Bhola Paswan Shashtri,INC
 ??  ??
1972 6th Assembly 318 Flag of the Indian National Congress.svg INC 167 Kedar Pandey
Abdul Gafoor
Jagannath Mishra
 ??  ??
1977 7th Assembly 318 No flag.svg Janata Party 214 Karpuri Thakur
Ram Sunder Das
 ??  ??
1980 8th Assembly 324 Flag of the Indian National Congress.svg INC 169 Jagannath Mishra
Chandrashekhar Singh
 ??  ??
1985 9th Assembly 324 Flag of the Indian National Congress.svg INC 196 Bindeshwari Dubey
Bhagwat Jha Azad
Satyendra Narayan Singh
Jagannath Mishra
Janata Dal symbol.svg Lok Dal (46) No flag.svg IND (29)
1990 10th Assembly 324 Janata Dal symbol.svg Janata Dal 122 Laloo Prasad Yadav Flag of the Indian National Congress.svg INC (71) BJP (39)
1995 11th Assembly 342 Janata Dal symbol.svg Janata Dal 167 Laloo Prasad Yadav
Rabri Devi
BJP (41) Flag of the Indian National Congress.svg INC (29)
2000 12th Assembly 243 (Excludes Jharkhand) RJD Flag.svg RJD 103 Rabri Devi BJP (39) No flag.svg SAP (28)
2005 13th Assembly 243 None None President's rule NDA (92)
JanataDalUnitedFlag.PNG JD(U) (55)
BJP (37)
RJD Flag.svg RJD (75) with
Flag of the Indian National Congress.svg INC (10)
2005 14th Assembly 243 NDA
JanataDalUnitedFlag.PNG JD(U) (88)
BJP (55)
143 Nitish Kumar RJD Flag.svg RJD (54)
Flag of the Indian National Congress.svg INC (10)
No flag.svg LJP (10)
2010 15th Assembly 243 NDA
JanataDalUnitedFlag.PNG JD(U) (115)
BJP (91)
206 Nitish Kumar
Jitan Ram Manjhi
RJD Flag.svg RJD (22)
No flag.svg LJP(3)
Flag of the Indian National Congress.svg INC (4)
2015 16th Assembly 243 RJD Flag.svg
JanataDalUnitedFlag.PNG JD(U) (71)
RJD (80)
INC (27)
178 Nitish Kumar NDA BJP (53)
LJP(2)No flag.svg

Text-Based :

  • 1995 Total: 324 (including Jharkhand). Janata Dal: 167, BJP: 41, INC: 29. CMs (Lalu Prasad Yadav, Rabri Devi)
  • 2000 Total: 243 (excluding Jharkhand). RJD: 103, BJP+Samata: 39+28 (CM: Nitish Kumar (for 7 days in March 2000), then Rabri Devi for 5 years)
  • 2005-Feb: Total: 243. JD(U)+BJP: 55+37=92, RJD: 75, INC: 10 (Hung assembly dissolved)
  • 2005-Oct. JD(U)+BJP: 88+55=143, RJD: 54, INC: 10 (CM: Nitish Kumar)
  • 2010: JD(U)+BJP: 115+91=206, RJD: 22, INC: 4 (CM(s): Nitish Kumar, Jitan Ram Manjhi, Nitish Kumar again)
  • 2015: Total : 243. RJD (80) + JD-U (71) + Cong (27) = Total 178; NDA: 57 (BJP- 53, LJP-2, RLSP-2) (CM: Nitish Kumar)

Lok Sabha elections[edit]

Araria  · Arrah  · Aurangabad  · Banka  · Begusarai  · Bhagalpur  · Buxar  · Darbhanga  · Gaya  · Gopalganj  · Hajipur  · Jahanabad  · Jamui  · Jhanjharpur  · Karakat  · Katihar  · Khagaria  · Kishanganj  · Madhepura  · Madhubani  · Maharajganj  · Munger  · Muzaffarpur  · Nalanda  · Nawada  · Paschim Champaran  · Pataliputra  · Patna Sahib  · Purnia  · Purvi Champaran  · Samastipur  · Saran  · Sasaram  · Sheohar  · Sitamarhi  · Siwan  · Supaul  · Ujiarpur  · Vaishali  · Valmiki Nagar

  • 1951: Main winner: Congress
  • 1957: Main winner: Congress
  • 1962: Main winner: Indian National Congress: 39 out of 53, Swatantra Party: 7
  • 1967: Main winner: Congress
  • 1971: Main winner: Congress
  • 1977: Total: 54. Janata Party + Alliance: All 54. Congress: Zero.
  • 1980: Total: 54. Congress the main winner with 39. CPI: 5
  • 1984: Congress: 48/54.
  • 1989: Total: 54. Janata Dal + BJP : 32+8, CPI: 4, Congress: 4, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha: 4.
  • 1991: JD: 31/54, CPI: 8, JMM: 6, BJP: 5, Congress: 1.
  • 1996: Janata Dal: 22, BJP: 18, Congress: 2
  • 1998: BJP+Samata alliance: 19+10, RJD (Lalu Yadav's Party): 17, Congress: 4
  • 1999: Total: 54. BJP+JD(U): 23+18, RJD: 7, Congress: 4
  • 2004: Total: 40, after Jharkhand became a separate state. RJD: 22, INC: 3; JD(U)+BJP: 6+5
  • 2009: JD(U)+BJP: 20+12, RJD+Congress: 4+2
  • 2014: BJP+: 31/40 (BJP alone: 22, Paswan's LJP: 6), RJD (Lalu Yadav's party): 4, JD-U (Nitish's party): 2, Congress: 2

Bihar was an important part of India's struggle for independence. Gandhi became the mass leader only after the Champaran Satyagraha that he launched on the repeated request of a local leader, Raj Kumar Shukla, he was supported by great illumanaries like Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha and Brajkishore Prasad.

Post Independence : 1950–1975[edit]

Dr Sri Krishna Sinha (right) with Dr Anugrah Narayan Sinha (left) during swearing-in ceremony of independent Bihar's first government on 15 August 1947

After Independence the power was shared by the two great Gandhian nationalists Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha who later became the first Chief Minister of Bihar and Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha who decidedly was next to him in the cabinet and served as the first Deputy Chief Minister cum Finance Minister of Bihar.In late 60's death of central railway minister late Mr. Lalit Narayan Mishra (who was killed by a hand grenade attack for which central leadership is blamed most of the time) pronounced the end of indigenous work oriented mass leaders. For two decades congress ruled the state with the help of puppet chief ministries hand in glove with the central government (Mrs. Indira Gandhi) ignoring the welfare of the people of the state. It was the time when a prominent leader like Satyendra Narayan Singh took sides with the Janata Party and deserted congress from where his political roots originated, following the ideological differences with the congress.

Bihar movement & Aftermath: 1975–1990[edit]

See also: Jayaprakash Narayan, Bihar movement and Indian Emergency

After independence also, when India was falling into an autocratic rule during the regime of Indira Gandhi, the main thrust to the movement to hold elections came from Bihar under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan. In 1974, JP led the student's movement in the state of Bihar which gradually developed into a popular people's movement known as the Bihar Movement..It was during this movement that JP gave a call for peaceful Total Revolution together with V. M. Tarkunde, he founded the Citizens for Democracy in 1974 and the People's Union for Civil Liberties in 1976, both NGOs, to uphold and defend civil liberties.On 23 January 1977, Indira Gandhi called fresh elections for March and released all political prisoners. Emergency officially ended on 23 March 1977.The Congress Party, suffered a defeat at the hands of the Janata Party coalition of several small parties created in 1977[3][4] and the alliance came to power, headed by Morarji Desai, who became the first non-Congress Prime Minister of India.[5] In Bihar, the Janata Party won all[6] the fifty-four Lok Sabha seats in 1977 general elections under the mentorship of Jayaprakash Narayan and rose to power in Bihar assembly too.Karpoori Thakur became CM after winning chief ministership contest from the then Janata Party President Satyendra Narayan Sinha.

Bihar movement's campaign warned Indians that the elections might be their last chance to choose between "democracy and dictatorship."

This resulted in two things: 1.The identity of Bihar(from the word Vihar meaning monasteries) representing a glorious past was lost. Its voice often used to get lost in the din of regional clamour of other states, specially the linguistic states like Uttar pradesh, Madhya pradesh etc. 2.Bihar gained an anti-establishment image. The establishment oriented press often projected the state as indiscipline and anarchy.

Idealism did assert itself in the politics from time to time, viz, 1977 when a wave defeated the entrenched Congress Party and then again in 1989 when Janata Dal came to power on an anti corruption wave. In between, the socialist movement tried to break the stranglehold of the status quoits under the leadership of Mahamaya Prasad Sinha and Karpoori Thakur. Unfortunately, this could not flourish, partly due to the impractical idealism of these leaders and partly due to the machinations of the central leaders of the Congress Party who felt threatened by a large politically aware state. Communist Party in Bihar was formed in 1939. In the sixties, seventies and eighties communist movement in Bihar was a formidable force and represented the most enlightened section in Bihar. The Communist movement in Bihar was led by veteran communist leaders like Jagannath Sarkar, Sunil Mukherjee, Rahul Sankrityayan, Pandit Karyanand Sharma, Indradeep Sinha, Chandrashekhar Singh and others. It was under the leadership of Jagannath Sarkar communist party fought "total revolution" led by Jayprakash Narain, as the movement in its core was anti democratic and challenged the very fabric of Indian Democracy.

Since the regional identity was slowly getting sidelined, its place was taken up by caste based politics, power initially being in the hands of the Brahmins, Bhumihar Brahmins and Rajputs.

History of politics[edit]

Main article: Politics in Bihar

The Election Commission[edit]

Electoral process[edit]

Pre elections[edit]

The Election Commission's Model Code of Conduct enters into force as soon as the notification for polls is issued. This places restrictions on the campaigning by political parties as well as prohibits certain government actions that would unduly influence the election.

Voting day[edit]

The electoral process is the same as in the rest of India with Electronic Voting Machines being used for all Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections.

Post elections[edit]

After the election day, the EVMs are stood stored in a strong room under heavy security. After the different phases of the elections are complete, a day is set to count the votes. The votes are tallied and typically, the verdict is known within hours. The candidate who has mustered the most votes is declared the winner of the constituency.

The party or coalition that has won the most seats is invited by the Governor to form the new government. The coalition or party must prove its majority in the floor of the house (Legislative Assembly) in a vote of confidence by obtaining a simple majority (minimum 50%) of the votes in the House.

Voter registration[edit]

For few cities in Bihar, the voter registration forms can be generated online and submitted to the nearest electoral office.

Absentee voting[edit]

As of now, India does not have an absentee ballot system. Section 19 of The Representation of the People Act (RPA)-1950 [3] allows a person to register to vote if he or she is above 18 years of age and is an ‘ordinary resident’ of the residing constituency i.e. living at the current address for 6 months or longer. Section 20 of the above Act disqualifies a non-resident Indian (NRI) from getting his/her name registered in the electoral rolls. Consequently, it also prevents an NRI from casting his/her vote in elections to the Parliament and to the State Legislatures.

The Representation of the People (Amendment) 2006 Bill was introduced in the Parliament by Shri Hanraj Bharadwaj, Minister of Law and Justice during February 2006 with an objective to amend Section 20 of the RPA-1950 to enable NRIs to vote. Despite the report submitted by the Parliamentary Standing Committee two years ago, the Government has so far failed to act on the recommendations. The Bill was reintroduced in the 2008 budget session of the Parliament to the Lok Sabha. But no action taken once again.

Several civic society organizations have urged the government to amend the RPA act to allow NRI's and people on the move to cast their vote through absentee ballot system.[4][5]

Electoral reforms[edit]

Proposed Electoral Reforms by Election Commission of India


Further reading[edit]

  • Subrata K. Mitra and V.B. Singh. 1999. Democracy and Social Change in India: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the National Electorate. New Delhi: Sage Publications. ISBN 81-7036-809-X (India HB) ISBN 0-7619-9344-4 (U.S. HB).
  • Subrata K. Mitra, Mike Enskat, Clemens Spiess (eds.). 2004. Political Parties in South Asia. Greenwood: Praeger.
  • Subrata K. Mitra/Mike Enskat/V.B. Singh. 2001. India, in: Nohlen, Dieter (Ed.). Elections in Asia and the Pacific: A Data Handbook. Vol. I. Oxford: Oxford University Press

See also[edit]


External links[edit]