The 2020 Bihar state elections turned out to be more closely fought than expected. The two main contending alliances, the National Democratic Alliance and the Mahagatbandhan, ended up with identical vote share (37.2%) but with a different number of seats – 125 against 110 in the 243-member assembly.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal emerged as the party but the largest number of seats but lost the election. Both the Rashtriya Janata Dal (which was part of the Mahagatbandhan) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (a member of the National Democratic Alliance) were dragged down by their coalition partner.

This election also saw a resurgence of the Left, which wins 16 seats, and the emergence of a new player in Bihar, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen, which won five seats in the eastern tip of the state.

The Lok Janshakti Party played spoiler by running against the Janata Dal (United) but failed to win more than a single seat.

Close elections easily create conflicting narratives and explanations, as most actors concerned tend to read the result in any way that suits them. In this article, we look at the data that this election generated to provide a fact-based explanation of the outcome and provide an explanation on the...

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