The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shadow on Laloo 15-yr monopoly

New Delhi, Feb. 23: Bihar may have voted to elect a complex hung Assembly which may necessitate a post-poll political realignment for government formation, according to The Telegraph-STAR News exit poll.

Conducted by AC Nielsen through the three phases of polling in Bihar and Jharkhand on February 3, 15 and 23, the exit poll reckons that Laloo Prasad Yadav's 15-year-long monopoly over Bihar will end.

The BJP-Janata Dal (United) combine, benefiting from the disunity among the United Progressive Alliance partners, is projected to emerge as the single largest pre-poll alliance in both states, the exit poll predicted.

In Jharkhand, the combine may be within striking range of the simple majority mark of 41 seats in the 81-member Assembly. In Bihar, it may find itself in a situation almost similar to that after the 2000 Assembly polls.

The exit poll projected the two National Democratic Alliance partners as winning 96 of 239 Bihar seats ' 24 short of the revised majority mark, as elections were deferred in the remaining four seats of the 243-member Assembly.

After the 2000 polls, the BJP-Dal (U) was unsuccessful in cobbling together a majority though it had emerged the single largest pre-poll alliance.

Dal (U)'s Nitish Kumar was sworn in chief minister but had to quit within a week as he could not take the mandatory confidence vote for want of the requisite numbers.

Laloo Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal and its Left partners are projected to end up with 82 seats.

Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party and the Congress ' Laloo Prasad's estranged UPA allies in Bihar ' may win 26 and eight seats. The three parties' combined tally of 116 is four short of majority.

Both UPA camps would be closely looking at smaller parties and Independents, who together are projected to account for 28 seats. But after their bitter campaign against each other, Laloo Prasad would have to get Paswan on his side to stand any chance of retaining power.

The exit poll conducted today, during the final round of polling involving 93 Bihar seats, has not shown any change in Laloo Prasad's dwindling fortunes as seen during the first two rounds. The RJD and allies are expected to win 33 of the 93 seats and the NDA partners could get 42 seats. The Congress, which fought 33 seats today, is likely to get two seats.

In Jharkhand, the BJP-Dal (U) is projected to win 37 seats, four short of the majority mark, and the Congress-Jharkhand Mukti Morcha combine 28.

The votes will be counted on Sunday.

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