Bihar’s ruling coalition and the opposition BJP held on to their seats as votes were counted for key polls seen to be a test for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to swap allies and form a new government with Tejashwi Yadav’s RJD in August.
The BJP is ahead in the Gopalganj assembly after 12 rounds, while the RJD appears to be holding on to Mokama after 10 rounds.
In Gopalganj, BJP leader Kusum Devi is up against the RJD’s Mohan Gupta. The BJP candidate is the wife of former MLA Subhash Singh whose death necessitated the by-election.
For the RJD, it is a prestige fight as Gopalganj is the home district of party chief Lalu Prasad.
In Mokama, the RJD candidate is Neelam Devi, whose husband Anant Singh’s disqualification over a corruption case made it necessary to conduct a byelection. She is up against the BJP’s Sonam Devi, who is the wife of strongman Lalan Singh.
Mokama has been the stronghold of Anant Singh since 2005. He won the seat twice as a candidate of Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United.
The BJP is contesting from the Mokama constituency for the first time; it had always left the seat to allies.