Bihar Assembly Election 2020: In first phase of polling, a debutant, senior leaders to test their fate in 71 seats
Bihar Assembly Election 2020: Among the candidates fighting the Bihar polls are 952 men and 114 women, the maximum number at 27 in the fray at Gaya Town and the minimum five at Katoria in Banka district.
Millions of voters in Bihar will queue up on Wednesday to decide the fate of more than 1,000 candidates across 71 constituencies in the first phase of Bihar assembly elections, the first poll to be held amid the coronavirus pandemic after a bitter campaign to grab power in the eastern state.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) is contesting in 35 of the 71 seats, followed by its ally Bharatiya Janata Party in 29, while the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has fielded its candidates in 42, the most number of seats in the first phase of polling by any party, and its coalition partner Congress is in the fray in 20 assembly segments.
The Lok Janshakti Party, headed by Chirag Paswan after the death of his father Ram Vilas Paswan, is in the fray in 41 seats. These include all the 35 contested by the JD(U) in keeping with the call given by Chirag Paswan, who recently pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the state to “dislodge” the chief minister from power.
Among the candidates fighting the Bihar polls are 952 men and 114 women, the maximum number at 27 in the fray at Gaya Town and the minimum five at Katoria in Banka district. From debutants to seasoned politicians, including a former chief minister to heirs of political parties and state ministers, candidates are trying their luck in the Bihar assembly elections.
From Lalu’s sons to state ministers
Prominent candidates include RJD leader and former minister Tej Pratap Yadav, who is contesting from the Hasanpur assembly seat in Samastipur district this time. Tej Pratap, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s older son, is pitted against JD(U)’s sitting MLA Raj Kumar Ray in the seat. His brother Tejashwi Prasad Yadav is seeking re-election for the second time from Raghopur assembly constituency in Vaishali. Tejashwi is fighting the BJP’s Satish Kumar and the LJP’s Rakesh Roshan, in a triangular contest.
Shreyasi Singh, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist shooter, is making her debut as the BJP candidate from Jamui seat. Chirag Paswan, who represents Jamui in the Lok Sabha and insists that he remains loyal to the BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has assured full support of his party to the 27-year-old shooter. Shreyasi Singh is contesting against Vijay Prakash Yadav of the RJD, the sitting MLA whose elder brother Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav is a former Union minister and a close aide of party chief Lalu Prasad. The former Union minister’s 28-year-old daughter Divya Prakash is also making her debut in the adjoining Tarapur constituency as the candidate of her father’s party.
Prem Kumar from Gaya Town, Vijay Kumar Sinha from Lakhisarai, Ram Narayan Mandal from Banka, Krishnanandan Prasad Verma from Jehanabad, Jaikumar Singh from Dinara and Santosh Kumar Nirala from Rajpur are the six members of the state cabinet who are in the fray in the first phase. Of the six, Verma, Singh and Nirala belong to the JD(U) and the remaining BJP leaders.
Verma, who has held key portfolios like education and social welfare, faces the additional challenge of wresting an RJD bastion for his party, having been asked to shift base from Ghosi where the JD(U) has fielded Rahul Kumar. Kumar’s father Jagdish Sharma, who was disqualified after he was convicted in the fodder scam, had formerly represented the Ghosi assembly seat as well as the Jehanabad Lok Sabha constituency.
The Imamganj, a reserved seat in Gaya district under the Aurangabad Lok Sabha constituency, will see a proverbial clash of titans. The former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha president Jitan Ram Manjhi, who is the NDA candidate, is the sitting MLA. His bid to retain the seat is challenged by his predecessor Uday Narayan Chaudhary, who had been associated with the JD(U) till a few years ago but is now fighting as the candidate of the RJD.
Guidelines have been issued by the Election Commission of India for the safe conduct of the Bihar Assembly Election 2020, including lowering the cap on the maximum number of voters for a polling booth from 1,600 to 1,000, staggering of polling hours and postal ballot facility for those aged above 80, or those afflicted with or suspected to be carrying the contagion. Sanitisation of electronic voting machines, wearing of masks and other protective gear by polling personnel and availability of thermal scanner, hand sanitiser, soap and water will also have to be ensured by authorities.
Of the 21.4 million voters who will exercise their franchise in the first phase of Bihar assembly elections in 71 constituencies going to vote in six districts, including some of the Maoist-hit areas, 10.1 million are women and 599 belong to the third gender, according to Election Commission data. The second and third phase for the 243-member Bihar assembly will be held on November 3 and 7, respectively. The results will be declared on November 10.