The much hyped battle for Bihar has entered into its second phase with voters set to decide the fate of 456 candidates, in 32 constituencies, spread over six Naxal-hit districts, posing a big challenge to security forces. The districts are Kaimur, Rohtas, Arwal, Jehanabad, Aurangabad and Gaya.
The second phase of polling poses a great challenge for the security personnel, as the six districts are heavily affected by Naxalism. In view of the security concerns, voting time has been curtailed by one hour, or two hours in as many as 23 constituencies.
The states Additional Chief Electoral Officer R Lakshamanan, said that, while voting would start at 7 a.m. in all 32 constituencies, it would end at 3 PM in 11 constituencies, and at 4 PM at 12 others. Only 9 seats would have scheduled voting from 7 AM to 5 PM.
A total of 86,13,870 electors are expected to decide the fate of 456 candidates, 32 out of whom are women. There are 9,119 polling stations. A total of 993 companies of central paramilitary forces and state police would be deployed on the day to ensure peaceful voting. As many as 334 companies would be in service in Gaya, 201 in Rohtas and 193 in Aurangabad.
While the contest on all the seats is intense, the battle at Imamganj (reserved SC seat) would be keenly watched where former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi of HAM, is locked in a straight contest with the speaker of the outgoing assembly, Uday Narain Chaudhary of JD(U). Chaudhary is a five-term MLA from the seat. Manjhi is also trying his luck from the Makhdumpur seat in Jehanabad too.
Senior BJP leader and former minister Prem Kumar (Gaya town), former state unit chief of the saffron party Gopal Narayan Singh (Nabinagar), and state minister Jay Kumar Singh (Dinara), are among those whose fate would be decided in this phase of polling.
The most notable feature of the first phase of polling was the very large turn-out of women voters. It has made analysts wonder whom they have voted for or are likely to have voted for.
11 candidates have declared cases related to murder, 36 face attempt to murder cases. Out of all the 456 candidates, 106 candidates are crorepatis, with the JD-U, and RJD having them in the largest proportion.
The first phase polling, on October 12, saw a voter turnout of 57 per cent. Polling was held for 49 of 243 constituencies, on the stat.
The remaining 3 phases of polling will be held on October 28, November 1, and November 5. Counting of votes will be held on November 8.