The voting for the third and last phase of the Bihar election is underway on Saturday. More than 2 crore voters spread across 78 assembly seats will decide the fate of at least 1,204 candidates. With this, Bihar also became the first state in India to hold assembly elections during the pandemic.
Despite Election Commission’s(EC) strict guidelines, people at some polling stations are flouting social distancing and other norms. The guidelines issued by the poll watchdog said that face masks, and gloves will be kept in reserves for those voters who are not carrying masks. EC also said that only one voter shall be allowed to stand in front of each polling official maintaining social distancing.
According to the guidelines, it was mandatory for the polling officer to put in place an elaborate mechanism to adhere to the COVID-19 safety protocol inside the polling booth. The volunteers will make sure to demonstrate social distancing for queues and also to set up a help desk for distribution of token to the voters, on a first come first basis so that voters don’t wait in the queue.
However, photos and videos clearly show apathy that can cost hundreds of lives in the poll-bound state.
Bihar has the third-largest population in the country. Despite being one of the poorest states, the official figures show that it has a better recovery rate than the national average for the COVID-19.
Several leaders, including Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, Devendra Fadnavis, Smriti Irani, contracted the virus during the poll campaign. Political rallies in Bihar were drawing massive crowds with leaders flouting corona-related norms.
The EC had also written letters to all political parties and warned them of action to be taken against candidates for violation of COVID-19 protocols and disregard to the EC’s instructions.
- To allow more free movement of voters, polling time has been increased by 1 hour. It will be held from 7 am-6 pm, instead of 7 am-5 pm earlier.
- COVID-19 patients who’re quarantined will be able to cast their vote on the last day of the poll under the supervision of health authorities
- All physical contact has been prohibited
- Not more than 1,000 voters can vote at one polling station
Logistics at polling stations
- SANITISERS:7 Lac
- MASKS: 46 Lac
- PPE KITS: 6 Lac
- FACE SHIELDS: 6.7 Lac
- HAND GLOVES: 23 Lac
The fight is between NDA, which consists of the BJP – JD(U) on one side and Mahagathbandhan in the opposition camp, which is made up of RJD, Congress, and Left parties.