Home / Politics / News /  Bihar elections: Polling begins for first phase in 71 seats

NEW DELHI: The first phase of polling for Bihar assembly elections began on Wednesday in 71 constituencies. At stake is the future of incumbent chief minister Nitish Kumar led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which is pitted against key challenger former deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav-led Mahagatbandhan or Grand Alliance.

The first phase of polling on Wednesday also marks the beginning of what is likely to be one of the biggest elections in the country at the time of the coronavirus pandemic. All eyes therefore are on what is the likely turnout going to be in the backdrop of social distancing restrictions and health protocols puts in place by the Election Commission (EC).

The assembly polls in Bihar is also the first polls in the state in the absence of political heavyweights like former chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan, who passed away recently.

Fate of 1066 candidates, out of which 114 are women, across the 71 assembly constituencies will be sealed on Wednesday by an electorate of 2.14 crores including 1.01 crore women. EC has taken a series of steps to ensure safe conduct of elections including staggering of polling hours and postal ballot facility for those aged above 80 or impacted by covid-19 and reducing maximum number of voters for a polling booth from 1,600 to 1,000.

In the first phase, Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) or JDU is contesting on 35 seats while its ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is contesting in 29 seats. Yadav led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is in fray in 42 seats while its ally Congress is contesting in 20 seats. Interestingly, Lok Janshakti Party, headed by Chirag Paswan and former NDA ally, is contesting on 41 seats out of which 35 seats are where JDU has fielded a candidate.

The first day of polling will coincide with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi holding public meetings on Wednesday in assembly constituencies where the second phase of polling will take place on 3 November for 94 assembly constituencies. The third and last phase of polling for 78 assembly constituencies will take place on 7 November while counting for the entire state will happen on 10 November.

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