This is a first for India. As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, Bihar gears up to exercise its franchise in just a few days from now.
Buoyed by BJP support, while Nitish Kumar is keeping his fingers crossed to romp home victorious this time around as well, Congress and RJD are busy giving last minute touches to their campaign strategy to counter the Modi juggernaut. As the key brain behind BJP’s poll strategy, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is leaving no stones unturned to checkmate the Opposition.
The demise of Ram Vilas Paswan and the spotlight on his son Chirag Paswan has also become a big talking point with LJP deciding to fight it alone this time around. While the BJP has attacked Chirag, the young MP on his part has proclaimed loud and clear that if one tears open his heart, he or she can find PM Modi there.
While most of the leaders have shifted to virtual rallies and the Election Commission is working round the clock to ensure that the polls can be conducted with proper protocols going forward.
In a state where a heady cocktail of muscle power, money, caste and development emerge as dominant factors, NewsMobile gives you a complete lowdown on what’s happening in the eastern state.
What however remains a big question is the voter turnout. Will voters stay indoors on account of the pandemic or come out to cast their franchise?
BIHAR ELECTIONS: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
To ensure safe conduct of the lecetions being held in the shadow of the pandemic, the poll panel has issued strict guidelines.
*Polling hours have been increased by one hour. Voters can cast their votes from 7 am to 6 pm except in areas affected by Maoist activities
*All physical contact has been prohibited
*Postal ballots have been permitted for those above 80 years of age
* Size of the campaign squad has been capped to three people for door-to-door visits and only five cars have been allowed, instead of 10, in a candidate’s convoy
*Not more than 1,000 voters can vote at one polling station
More than 7 crore voters will elect 243 lawmakers. Keeping the numbers in mind Election Commission has divided polling into three phases.
The first phase of polling will cover 71 constituencies and is scheduled for October 28.
Phase 2 will include 97 constituencies and voting will take place on November 3.
The final phase will include the remaining 78 constituencies and will be held on November 7. The results will be declared on November 10.
The number of polling stations has been increased to more than 1 lakh to maintain social distancing as compared to around 65,000 used in the last election. Masks and thermal screening have been made mandatory to mitigate the impact of coronavirus.
Sanitizing Equipment At Polling Stations
7 lac sanitizers
46 lac face masks
6 lac PPE kits
6.7 lac face shields
23 lac hand gloves
Discrepancies in seat-sharing have widened the gap in NDA.
Both JD(U) and LJP are at daggers drawn. The political animosity has deepened so much that LJP Chief Chirag Paswan is leaving no stone unturned to slam Bihar CM and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar. During an interview, he said that “every vote given to JD(U) candidate will force your child to migrate tomorrow. Nitish Kumar needs to put a photo of the Prime Minister. Our thinking aligns with that of the PM.”
LJP is not part of the NDA in Bihar. JDU has decided to contest on 122 seats, whereas BJP has 121 seats.
On the other hand, Mahagathbandhan looks confident of sweeping the polls. RJD has decided to contest on 144 seats, while Congress will fight on 70 seats. Tejashwi Yadav is the Chief Ministerial face of Grand Alliance.
Progressive Democratic Alliance, headed by the Jan Adhikar Party declared ex-Madhepura MP Pappu Yadav as the face of CM for the alliance.
Chief Ministerial Aspirants
Nitish Kumar: Chief ministerial face of National Democratic Alliance. He has served the people of Bihar as CM on five previous occasions. He won 2015 polls with RJD as an ally, but later on, joined hands with BJP in 2017.
Tejashwi Yadav: Chief ministerial face of the Grand Alliance in Bihar. He joined politics in 2015 and later on became Deputy CM under Nitish Government. He has promised to create employment for the people of Bihar.
Chirag Paswan: Son of late Ram Vilas Paswan. He is the CM face of the Lok Janshakti Party. He has challenged Bihar CM Nitish Kumar openly and dubbed him as arrogant. LJP is known for its political opportunism and knack for predicting which way the political wind is blowing.
Pushpam Priya: New entrant in politics and also the founder of Plurals Party. She declared herself the chief ministerial candidate. She has also announced a 50 percent reservation to women candidates. She has promised to give a push to women empowerment.
Key Assembly Seats
This seat has remained loyal to BJP leaders. Sitting BJP MLA Nitin Navin has served this assembly seat for two consecutive terms. In spite of this, Bankipur seat will not be a cakewalk for the patriarch. Congress has fielded Shatrughan Sinha’s son Luv Sinha as its candidate. Shatrughan Sinha has a huge fan base in the area. He won the elections of 2009 and 2014 with a colossal margin. Shatrughan Sinha’s persistent popularity would give hard time to Nitin Navin.
The political clash becomes more interesting as the BJP rebel Sushma Sahu is also contesting from the seat as an Independent. If you are thinking that the twist is over, then you are wrong. Founder of plurals party Pushpam Priya Choudhary is also eyeing the Bankipur seat.
Raghopur assembly seat
Chief Ministerial candidate of Mahagathbandhan Tejashwi Yadav will contest from the Raghopur seat.
He is seeking another term after 2015, which was his first brush with electoral politics. But, he will be facing an uphill task as BJP has fielded veteran Satish Kumar who had defeated his mother Rabri Devi from the same assembly seat in 2010.