The Legislative Assembly election was held over five-phases in Bihar through October–November 2015 before the end of the tenure of the prior Legislative Assembly of Bihar on 29 November 2015.
In April 2015, the Janata Parivar group (a group of six parties - Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (Secular), Indian National Lok Dal and Samajwadi Janata Party (Rashtriya)) announced their intention to fight the election, with Nitish Kumar as their Chief Ministerial candidate. The Janta Parivar was joined by the Indian National Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party. This coalition was restructured as Mahagatabandhan when the Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (Secular), Indian National Lok Dal and Samajwadi Janata Party (Rashtriya) departed from the Janata Parivar.
The Bharatiya Janata Party led NDA fought the election alongside the Lok Janshakti Party, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and Hindustani Awam Morcha.
Six left parties fought jointly, independently from both of the two main blocs.
This election saw highest voter turnout in Bihar assembly polls since 2000, with a 56.8% voter turnout in this election. The RJD emerged as a single largest party with 80 seats, followed by JD (U) with 71 seats and BJP with 53 seats. In terms of vote share, BJP came first with 24.4%, followed by RJD with 18.4% and JD (U) with 16.8% and Congress got 6.7%.
Election Commission of India announced that around 1,000 Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines will be used along with EVM in 36 out of the 243 assembly seats in Bihar elections, spread over 34 districts. ECIL manufactured VVPATs will be used in 10 assembly constituencies, while BELmanufactured VVPAT will be used in 26 assembly constituencies. The election information was webcast for the first time and voters can locate their polling booth on phones via an app. About 1.5 crore voters would be informed about the voting dates via SMS.
Election Commission used three new software products - Suvidha, Samadhan and Sugam - to facilitate campaigning, public grievance redressal and vehicle management in Bihar. Electoral Roll Management Software helped in addition/deletion/upgradation of rolls. Android based app 'Matdan' helped the commission with poll-day monitoring in Bihar. Election Commission launched a special drive, Systematic Voters' Education And Electoral Participation (SVEEP) for voter awareness and higher voter turn out in Bihar elections. Bihar would be the first state to have photo electoral rolls, with photographs of candidates on EVMs
Eleven NRI voters registered in the electoral rolls for the first time in Bihar electoral history. They were contacted by election officials through their family members. It was the first time that NRIs cast their votes semi-electronically from foreign countries. The e-postal ballot system and the existing proxy-voting facility is extended for NRI voters from their place of residence abroad. But this facility is not available to migrant voters within India.
A cross will be NOTA symbol to be used in this and subsequent elections. The Election Commission introduced the specific symbol for NOTA, a ballot paper with a black cross across it, on 18 September. The symbol is designed by the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.
On 31 July, the ECI published the final voters' list for the election, which has an overall population of 10,38,04,637, in accordance with the 2011 Census of India.
Bihar Electoral System
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.
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).
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. 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
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.
Bihar Legislative Council is a permanent body and not subject to dissolution. But as nearly as possible, one-third of the members thereof retire as soon as may be on the expiration of every second year. Members are now elected or nominated for six years and one-third of them retire every second year. The presiding officers of Vidhan Parishad are now known as Chairman and Deputy Chairman. Members of the upper house, the Legislative Council are indirectly elected through an electoral college. There are 27 Committees which are, at present, functional in the Council. Besides, there are three Financial Committees consisting of the members of the two Houses of the State Legislature.
State Election Commission
State Election Commission is a Constitutional Body. The State Election Commission was established in accordance with the Constitution read with Bihar Panchayat Raj Act, 1993 on 30.03.1994.
The 73rd and 74th Amendment to the Constitution of India is a milestone in the process of establishing democratic decentralised administration through local bodies and taking administration to the doorsteps of the people to ensure economic and social justice. The State Election Commission (Commission) is a creation of the 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India. The Commission was created with the responsibility to conduct election to the Panchayats at various levels. Article 243-K provides for the powers and responsibilities of the State Election Commission.
Elections are conducted according to the constitutional provisions, supplemented by laws made by State Assembly . The major laws are Bihar Panchayat Raj Act, 1993, Bihar Municipal Act, 1922 and The Patna Municipal Corporation Act, 1951. The Bihar Panchayat Elections Rule, 1995 deal with the delimitation of territorial constituencies of panchayat, the reservation there of, the preparation and revision of electoral rolls and Conduct of Election to the Three- tier Panchayat Raj Institutions. The Bihar Municipalities constitution of territorial constituencies Rules, 2001 deals with the delimitation of territorial constituencies of Nagar Parishad and Nagar Panchayats .
The Bihar Municipal Election and Election petitions Rules, 1953 deals with the preparation and revision of electoral rolls and Conduct of Election to Nagar Parishad and Nagar Panchayats. The Patna Municipal Corporation constitution of territorial constituencies Rules, 2001 and Patna Municipal Corporation preparation of electoral rolls and conduct of elections Rules, 1951 deals with the delimitation of territorial constituencies of Nagar Nigam , the reservation thereof, the preparation and revision of electoral rolls and Conduct of Election to Nagar Nigams of the State. The Supreme Court of India has held that where the enacted laws are silent or make insufficient provision to deal with a given situation in the conduct of elections, the Election Commission has the residuary powers under the Constitution to act in an appropriate manner. The same hold good for the State Election Commissions as well since a comparisons of Article 324 and Article 243 K of constitutions of India would show that the State Election Commission has same powers with regard to Panchayat/Urban Local Bodies Elections as Election Commission of India has regarding to Parliament and State Assemblies. .
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.
The first Bihar governments in 1946 were led by two eminent leaders Sri Babu (Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha) and Anugrah Babu (Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha) who were men of unimpeachable integrity and great public spirit.They ran an exemplary government in Bihar. After Independence of India, the power was shared by these 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.Bihar was rated as the best administered among the states in the country at that time.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.
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 Narayan 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 and the alliance came to power, headed by Morarji Desai, who became the first non-Congress Prime Minister of India. In Bihar, the Janata Party won all the fifty-four Lok Sabha seats in 1977 general elections under the mentorship of Narayan and rose to power in Bihar assembly also. Karpoori Thakur became Chief Minister after winning a 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:
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. 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 1960s, 1970s and 1980s the Communist movement in Bihar was a formidable force and represented the most enlightened section in Bihar. The movement was led by veteran communist leaders like Jagannath Sarkar, Sunil Mukherjee, Rahul Sankrityayan, Pandit Karyanand Sharma, Indradeep Sinha, and Chandrashekhar Singh. It was under the leadership of Sarkar that the Communist party fought "total revolution" led by Jayprakash Narayan, 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, Bhumihars and Rajputs.
Janata Dal came to power in the state in 1990 on the back of its victory at the national stage in 1989. Lalu Prasad Yadav became Chief Minister after winning the race of legislative party leadership by a slender margin against Ram Sundar Das, a former chief minister from the Janata Party and close to eminent Janata Party leaders like Chandrashekhar and S N Sinha. Later, Lalu Prasad Yadav gained popularity with the masses through a series of popular and populist measures. The principled socialists, Nitish Kumar included, gradually left him and Lalu Prasad Yadav was the uncrowned king by 1995 as both Chief Minister as well as the President of his party, Rashtriya Janata Dal. He was a charismatic leader who had people's support and Bihar had got such a person as the chief minister after a long time. But he couldn't bring the derailed wagon of development of the state on to the track. When corruption charges got serious, he quit the post of CM but anointed his wife as the CM and ruled through proxy. In this period, the administration deteriorated fast.
By 2004, 14 years after Lalu's victory, The Economist magazine said that "Bihar [had] become a byword for the worst of India, of widespread and inescapable poverty, of corrupt politicians indistinguishable from mafia-dons they patronise, caste-ridden social order that has retained the worst feudal cruelties". In 2005, the World Bank believed that issues faced by the state was "enormous" because of "persistent poverty, complex social stratification, unsatisfactory infrastructure and weak governance".
In 2005, as disaffection reached a crescendo among the masses, middle classes included, the RJD was voted out of power and Lalu Prasad Yadav lost an election to a coalition headed by his previous ally and now rival Nitish Kumar. Nitish Kumar has regained Bihar's true identity, which is the place from where people who changed the world come like Gautam Buddha or Asoka or Sher Shah Suri or the Sikh Gurus. Despite the separation of financially richer Jharkhand, Bihar has actually seen more positive growth in recent years.
Currently, there are three main political formations: Janata Dal, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal led coalition which also has the Indian National Congress. There are myriad other political formations. Ram Vilas Paswan led Lok Janshakti Party is a constituent of the NDA at the centre, and does not see eye to eye with Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD in Bihar. Bihar People's Party is a small political formation in north Bihar. The Communist Party of India had a strong presence in Bihar at one time, but has got weakened now. CPM and Forward Bloc have minor presence. Ultra left parties like CPML, Party Unity etc. have presence in pockets and are at war with the state.