BIHAR POLLS …Stage set for counting of votes; many CM aspirants; trends before 8.30am; is Nitish on his way out?


NEWS VOTES COUNTING BIHAR

KS Shankar / IHN-NN

KS Shankar


PATNA/NEW DELHI: The stage is set for counting of votes polled in the high-stakes close-to-call Bihar assembly elections, the first such exercise amid the coronavirus spread. The counting will start at 8am on Tuesday, November 10, and trends could be known within a matter of half an hour.

Billed as a hot battle between the ruling National Democratic Alliance and the Rashtriya Janata Dal-led Grand Alliance (Magahagatbandan), the high-stakes close-to-call three-phased elections held on October 28, November 3 and November7 will decide who will rule the state for the next five years. While chief minister Nitish Kumar seemed losing his support this time, the young Tesjashwi Yadav of the RJD came up-front with his aggressive campaign strategies.

Five of the eight exit polls backed the Grand Alliance comprising the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and three left parties, and edged out the National Democratic Alliance in what emerged as a closely contested election.  The exit polls predicted the Grand Alliance may cross the majority mark of 122 in the 243-member assembly.

Around 7.29 crore voters had exercised their franchise to choose lawmakers from among 3,755 candidates in this election round, which will redraw the contours of the 234-member assembly. 

In a reassertion of the Lalu Prasad family legacy in Bihar, Tejaswi Yadav is seeking re-election for the second time from Raghopur assembly constituency while his brother and former minister Tej Pratap Yadav is contesting from Hasanpur in Samastipur district.

Former Bihar minister and six-time MLA Chandrika Rai is in fray from his stronghold of Parsa in Saran district. Rai, the father-in-law of Tej Pratap Yadav, is contesting on a JD(U) ticket and had joined the JD(U) just ahead of the assembly polls. He has also represented the seat several times and won it six times as an RJD leader. Rai is up against RJD’s Chhote Lal Rai. 

Luv Sinha the Congress candidate and Bollywood actor Shatrughan Sinha’s son, is making his electoral debut from Bankipur in senior Sinha’s erstwhile Patna Lok Sabha constituency. His challengers are BJP’s Nitin Nabin and Pushpam Priya Choudhary of Plurals Party. Before entering politics, Luv Sinha tried his luck in two Bollywood movies.

Shreyasi Singh, the Commonwealth Games gold medalist shooter, is making her debut as the BJP candidate from Jamui seat.

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 were in the fray in the first phase. Of the six, Verma, Singh and Nirala belong to the JD(U) and the remaining are BJP leaders.

CLASH OF TITANS

The Imamganj seat in Gaya district 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 trying to retain the seat. He 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.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has made elaborate arrangements for counting of votes on Tuesday. It has set up 55 counting centres in all the 38 districts. Three counting centres each have been set up in four districts of East Champaran (which has 12 assembly constituencies), Gaya (10 seats), Siwan (8 constituencies) and Begusarai (7 constituencies).

A three-layer security has been provided at counting centres. The first layer comprises Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the second layer is of the Bihar Military Police and the third of the district armed police for 38 strongrooms across the state.

A total of 106,524 EVMs are in different strong rooms across 55 centres, which will decide the fate of 3,558 candidates, including 370 women and a transgender. The counting process, scheduled to start at 8am, will be videographed.

POLLING PER CENT

Bihar has recorded 57.05 per cent turnout in the assembly elections this time, marginally higher than that of 2015, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The voter turnout in the 2015 elections was 56.66 per cent.

MAJOR ISSUES

In this assembly election, employment overshadowed development, as the poll narratives changed from development agenda to jobs for unemployed youth, an aspect that was brought to the forefront at the start of the campaign by Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD.

He and the RJD-led Mahagatbandhan set the ball rolling on this with a promise to provide one million jobs at the very outset of the party assuming office. Initially, the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) mocked at the proposal, but later the BJP, a part of the NDA along with the ruling JD(U), was compelled to announce 1.9 million jobs for youth . 

ALLIANCES

The present assembly election exercise was unique in more ways than one. The state witnessed participation of four alliances and there were six chief ministerial candidates in the race. The NDA is an alliance of four parties — the BJP, the JD (U), Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP). The GA comprises RJD, the Congress and the Left parties.

The Progressive Democratic Alliance (PDA) is an alliance of four parties — Jan Adhikar Party (JAP), Azad Samaj Party, the Bahujan Mukti Party (BMP) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). The Grand Democratic Secular Front (GDSF) of the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Janwadi Party (Socialist) and Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) also contested the polls.

The NDA and the GA have projected Kumar and Tejashwi as its CM candidate, respectively. Former MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav of the JAP and former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha of the RLSP are the CM candidates of the PDA and the GDSF, respectively. Besides, Pushpam Priya of the Plurals Party and Chirag Paswan have also projected themselves as the CM candidate in the multi-cornered assembly elections. In the event of a hung assembly, any name could crop up for the CM post.

Counting of votes will be held tomorrow, also for bypolls to one Lok Sabha and 56 assembly seats spread across 12 states held on November 3 and 7. While bypolls to 54 assembly seats were held on November 3, those for one Lok Sabha seat in Bihar and two assembly seats in Manipur were held on November 7. While there are two vacancies each in the assemblies of Assam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, one seat fell vacant in the West Bengal legislature.

OTHER STATE POLLS

Besides the Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha bypoll in Bihar, by-elections are held to 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh.Most of these 28 seats fell vacant when rebel Congress members resigned from the party and the assembly to join the BJP. After the resignations of the Congress members, the Kamal Nath-led government lost majority and the BJP returned to power. Eight assembly seats were going for bypolls in Gujarat, followed by seven in Uttar Pradesh, two each in Odisha, Nagaland, Manipur, Karnataka and Jharkhand, and one each in Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Haryana. –IHN-NN


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