NEWS EC BIHAR
NEW DELHI: In the face of the Covid spread, the Election Commission is taking courage in its hands to hold a massive electoral exercise. Elections to the Bihar Assembly will take place on three days — October 28, November 3 and November 7 — to fill 243 seats, the EC announced on Friday.
As per the schedule announced by EC, the date of issue of notification for the three phases will be on October 1, October 9 and October 13. The last date for nominations is October 8 for the first phase, October 16 for the second phase and October 20 for the third phase. The scrutiny will be held on October 9, 17 and 21 respectively for the first, second and third phase. The last date of withdrawal is October 12, October 18 and 23 October for the three phases. The date of counting and declaration of results will be on Tuesday, November 10, the EC has stated.
The EC has made it clear that all Covid-linked protocols will be adhered to while holding the polling. The voting time has been increased by one hour, and more polling booths will be set up, to ensure a fair spread of the voters and avoid crowding. This is the first time that the EC is undertaking a massive electoral exercise after the breakout of the Covid pandemic and resultant shutdown or lockdown of the nation from March 25 this year.
The Modi government has given its nod to hold the polls, even though there is no let-up in the Covid scenario. Bihar, though, is not among the worst-hit states.
The elections will see a line up of the ruling JDU of chief minister Nitish Kumar and the BJP on the one side, and the RJD of Lalu Prasad Yadav, now in jail, on the other side. The polls will be a trial of strength for the BJP, in special, too in view of the economic downturn in the country which has become critical in the context of the nationwide shutdown announced by PM Modi in March last, and the iterations of lockdowns. The agriculture reform legislation too will be brandied by the Opposition to take on the BJP and its ally the JDU in the state.
What will be curious to watch will be whether there will be an anti-incumbency trend in the polling, as Nitish and BJP ruled the state repeatedly. BJP, which was an ally, left the JDU in between, and RJD joined hands with Nitish. But the alliance did not work out well. Nitish has been CM for 14 years from 2005 to 2020.
The elections to the Bihar assembly will be followed by polls next year to Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry assemblies. Bihar will be a test case in the context of the Covid-linked restrictions. Campaigning will be to the minimum, and election expenses too could come down drastically in view of the present constraints. IHN-NN
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