The poll was one of the most fiercely fought with Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar on one side and the BJP, Ramvilas Paswan and Jitin Ram Manjhi on the other.
Exit polls have projected a mixed picture, with four pointing to a continuation of Nitish Kumar’s rule in the state, while three have projected a win for the BJP.
Nitish and Lalu represent largely the ‘middle castes’, while BJP draws its dedicated supporters from the upper castes. BJP has, however, tried to incorporate the dalits this time by tying up with Ramvilas Paswan and Jitin Ram Manjhi.
BJP has faced a string of setbacks since it won the Lok Sabha elections under the leadership of Narendra Modi.
However, since then, the party has lost elections in Delhi. It also suffered setbacks in local body elections in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh — two key states where it had got huge support from in the general election earlier this year.
A loss in Bihar would lead to an increase in internal tension within the BJP, with moderates blaming anti-reservation comments and attacks on minorities in the name of religious biases for any set back. On the other hand, the old guard are likely to hold up any set back as personal shortcomings of party president Amit Shah. Amit Shah has been in the cross hairs of anti-Modi factors as key to PM’s hold over the party.