Voting for the first phase of the election is underway in Bihar. This also marks the first election in COVID-19 era. A total of 1,066 candidates are in the fray for 71 assembly seats spread across 16 districts. Candidates include 952 men and 114 women. Over 2 crore people will exercise their franchise, out of which one crore are women.
Imamganj, Sasaram, Dinara, Gaya, Munger, Jamui, Mokama, Jamalpur, Chainpur, and Buxar are key assembly seats that will decide the fate of the incumbent Nitish government.
Six sitting ministers will also go through a litmus test in this phase – Prem Kumar (Gaya Town), Vijay Kumar Sinha (Lakhisarai), Ram Narayan Mandal (Banka), Krishnanandan Prasad Verma (Jehanabad), Jaikumar Singh (Dinara), and Santosh Kumar Nirala (Rajpur).
Jitan Ram Manjhi – Former Chief Minister of Bihar is contesting from Imamganj seat against RJD candidate Uday Narayan Choudhary. His party Hindu Awam Morcha is one of the allies of the National Democratic Alliance. In 2015, Manjhi won from the Imamgarh seat as an Independent candidate and defeated then JD(U) leader Uday Narayan Choudhary.
Anant Singh – RJD has given a ticket to don-turned-politician Anant Singh. He is contesting from the Mokama assembly seat. Singh is currently lodged in Beur central jail, Patna in a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. He had won the 2015 assembly elections from behind bars as an independent candidate after JD(U) denied Singh a ticket.
Shreyasi Singh – These elections mark her debut in Bihar politics. She is an Arjuna awardee and a commonwealth gold medallist in the shooting. She will be contesting from Jamui Assembly seat. Singh has a strong political background as both her parents were members of Parliament from the Banka constituency. She is fighting against RJD’s Vijay Prakash, who has criminal cases against him.
Prem Kumar – He is the minister of Agriculture in the Bihar cabinet. BJP has fielded him from Gaya, which is his bastion. Nobody has been able to breach BJP’s fortress in Gaya. In 2015, Prem Kumar of Bharatiya Janta Party won the seat by defeating Congress’ Priya Ranjan with a margin of 22789 votes.
Key assembly seats
Sasaram – An interesting three-way fight for the Sasaram seat is on the cards, with the sitting MLA Ashok Kumar fighting on a JDU ticket. Kumar was in the RJD but decided to join JD(U) before the polls. He is up against the veteran leader Rameshwar Chaurasiya, who quit the BJP to join Chirag Paswan’s LJP. The RJD has fielded Rajesh Kumar Gupta.
Gaya – BJP’s home turf has a lot to witness this time. An independent candidate, Parvez Mansoori was booked for riding a buffalo while campaigning. He said Gaya is one of the dirtiest cities in Bihar and he wanted to show a mirror to the politicians. In the 2015 polls, BJP had won Gaya Town and Gurua seats. Prem Kumar has represented Gaya Town for the last seven consecutive terms.
Lakhisarai – It will be a tightrope walk for the BJP to retain the Lakhisarai seat. This time it’s a straight battle between the BJP and Congress. NDA’s Vijay Kumar Sinha has won this seat twice in a row. He is also the Labour Resources Department Minister.