Patna/New Delhi: The third and final phase of assembly elections is underway in Bihar in which stakes are quite high for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is up against multiple rivals, including former ally Chirag Paswan. At least 1,204 candidates are contesting for the 78 assembly seats spread across 19 districts, in the final phase. 7.70 per cent of the voters have cast vote till 9 am. Some of the prominent candidates in this phase are the BJP’s Niraj Kumar Singh in Chhatapur seat, cousin of actor Sushant Singh Rajput; Congress’s Bihariganj candidate Subhashini Sharad Yadav, daughter of former Union minister Sharad Yadav and Janata Dal United’s Sarairanjan candidate Vijay Kumar Choudhary, who is also the Bihar assembly Speaker. Voting is also being held for the Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat, where a by-election was necessitated by the death of JD(U) MP Baidyanath Mahato.
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The JD(U) bid to retain the Valmiki Nagar parliamentary seat by fielding Baidyanath Mahato’s son Sunil Kumar is facing a challenge from Congress candidate Pravesh Kumar Mishra, a journalist-turned-politician. Like Valmiki Nagar, the 78 assembly segments spread across 19 districts also fall in north Bihar, as areas falling north of the Ganges in the state are called.
Many of these areas fall in the Kosi-Seemanchal region, where the contest between the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Grand Alliance will be held under the shadow of the “Owaisi factor”, given that the AIMIM has fielded candidates in many of the Muslim-dominated seats here, and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi had carried out a relatively big campaign.
The Kosi-Seemanchal region also happens to be the main area of influence for former MP Pappu Yadav, whose Jan Adhikar Party is looking to make its presence felt and prove a point to the Rashtriya Janata Dal as both draw their support from the state’s most populous community, the Yadavs.
As in the previous two phases, candidates of Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) are contesting in a number of seats this time, threatening the JD(U). While the NDA looked surefooted till a few months ago, the ruling coalition seemed to have taken a more cautious note as appeals to voters came from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar towards the end of the campaign.
The RJD, once considered an election-winning machine in Bihar, is hoping for a comeback, enthused by the response its chief ministerial candidate Tejashwi Yadav, 31, received in his over two dozen rallies. The RJD is part of an alliance comprising its old ally, the Congress, besides the Left parties.
This morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an appeal to voters to “set a new record” as polling began in the final phase. PM Modi, who attended 12 rallies during the campaign, had come out with an open letter addressed to the people of the state on Thursday saying he “needed” Nitish Kumar in the state so that the development of Bihar continued unhindered.
Some 2.34 crore voters spread across the 78 assembly constituencies will vote today. The full strength of the Bihar assembly is 243. The voting percentage in the second phase on 94 seats was 55.70 per cent. The votes will be counted on November 10.
In the second phase held on November 3, 94 seats were up for election, a chunk of them were BJP’s strongholds in north Bihar. The key candidates included Tejashwi Yadav and his brother Tej Pratap Yadav.
Despite warnings by “extreme cynics” about holding the Bihar assembly election amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation so far was reasonably good with two phases of voting completed, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said on Thursday. “There was no dearth of sceptics, no dearth of cynics, no dearth of extreme cynics who were making doomsday predictions for us… But here we are so far in a reasonably good shape,” he said.
Due to the pandemic, nearly 60 countries had postponed elections. Later, countries including Sri Lanka, South Korea, Croatia and Mangolia held elections. The Election Commission does meticulous planning for all polls. But this time, the “new dimension” of coronavirus created more challenges, the Chief Election Commissioner had said.
Source :Google News