After high-pitch bitter campaigning, which saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the rival camps led by Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad holding a string of rallies, the stage is set for voting in 49 seats for the Bihar Assembly elections in the first phase of the five-phase polls, on October 12 . The states Additional Chief Electoral Officer R Lakshamanan, said that, a total of 1,35,72,339 electorates are eligible to decide the fate of 583 candidates, for the 49 seats, in 10 districts, in the first phase of the elections.
Lakshamanan said, voting would start from 7 AM. While in the majority of the seats, polling would end at 5 PM, in some constituencies time has been cut short to 4 PM and 3 PM on the basis of a law and order situation feedback in the Naxal-hit areas, he said. Out of a general electorate of 1,35,72,339, there are 72,37,253 men, 63,17,602 women and 405 of the third gender. Lakshamanan said, out of a total of 583 candidates in the field, there are 54 women nominees.
BSP, which does not have much influence in Bihar, has fielded a maximum of 41 candidates among the 49 seats. BJP has fielded 27 candidates in the 49 seats, followed by JDU’s 24, RJD’s 17, LJP’s 13, Congress’s 8, and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party’s 6, and Hindusthani Awam Morcha’s 3.
The left front is trying to make significant inroads in the polls, on the basis of the combined strength of six parties – CPI, CPI-M, CPI-ML, Forward Block, SUCI (C) and RSP. While CPI has fielded 25 candidates, CPI-M has fielded 12 in the first phase.
Lakshamanan said, tight security arrangements have been put in place to ensure peaceful polling in 13,212 polling stations during the first phase. Bihar will go for polls in a five phase election from October 12, and end on November 5. The counting of votes will take place on November 8. The term of the current 243-member Bihar Assembly expires on November 29.
There would be 80,000 to 90,000 polling personnel. Every polling station would be manned by the Central Para Military Force, he said, adding drones, and helicopters, would also be put in service.
Voting in 49 seats would take place in the backdrop of the high decibel campaign which ended on Saturday evening. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and BJP President Amit Shah headed the BJP’s poll blitzkreig. Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, JP Nadda joined state leaders, Sushil Kumar Modi, and Nand Kishore Yadav, to spread BJP’s message among people.
Rival campaigns revolved around Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, and RJD chief Lalu Yadav. Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi came to the state for one day each to add muscle to the secular alliance prospects.
Stakes are high for Nitish Kumar’s JDU in the first phase of polling, as out of the 49 seats, it had won 29, in 2010. BJP, which was with JDU in last election, had won 13 seats, while RJD had clinched four.