New Delhi: The Bihar Assembly elections will be held in three phases with polling to take place on October 28, and November 3 and 7, with the counting of votes to take place on November 10, according to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.
According to the CEC, the date for issue of notification for the first phase will be October 1, last date of nomination is October 8, scrutiny of nominations October 9, last date for withdrawal of candidature October 12, and date of polling will be October 28th. The counting of votes, for all phases, will be on November 10.
For the second phase, the date for issue of notification is October 9, last date of nomination is October 16, scrutiny of nominations October 17, last date for withdrawal of candidature October 19, and date of polling will be November 3.
In the third and final phase, issue of notification on October 13, last date of nomination is October 20, scrutiny of nominations October 21, last date for withdrawal of candidature October 23, and date of polling will be November 7.
“Assembly elections in Bihar will be conducted in three phases. In the first phase 71 constituencies in 16 districts will go for polls, it will be held in approximately 31,000 polling stations. In the second phase, 94 Assembly constituencies in 17 districts will go for polls, with around 42 thousand polling stations. In the third phase, 78 constituencies in 15 districts, it will have approximately 33.5 thousand polling stations,” Arora added.
The CEC also said that the need for holding Assembly elections was being felt even during the crisis phase.
“As days and months passed and COVID-19 showed no signs of abetting, it was realised that some way would have to be found to balance the democratic rights of the electorate while also making sincere and systematic efforts to protect health and safety of people. The term of the Assembly in Bihar is due to expire on November 29. Bihar Assembly has a strength of 243 members, of whom 38 seats are reserved for SCs and two for STs,” Arora said.
The CEC also said that the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) comes into force with the announcement of the poll dates.
“The Commission has already made elaborate arrangements for ensuring the effective implementation of MCC guidelines,” he said.
Speaking about the number of polling stations to be increased in view of managing the COVID-19 situation better Arora said, “One of the first major steps which was taken was to reduce the maximum number of electors at a polling station from 1,500 to one thousand. As a result of this, the number of polling stations went from 65,337 (in 2015 Assembly elections) to more than one lakh in 2020.”
The ECI has also arranged sanitisers, masks, PPE kits, face shields and hand gloves for the smooth and safe conduct of the election process in the state.
“Over 7 lakh hand sanitiser units, about 46 lakh masks, 6 lakh PPE kits, 6.7 lakh units of faces-shields, 23 lakh (pairs of) hand gloves arranged. For voters specifically, 7.2 crore single-use hand gloves arranged,” he said.
He also said that the COVID-19 patients, who are quarantined, will be able to cast their votes at the last day of polling at their respective polling stations under the supervision of health authorities, this is apart from the facility of postal ballot already extended to them.
One of the other important decision is to extend the polling hours by one hour. The polling now will be held from 7 am to 6 pm, instead of the earlier 7 am to 5 pm time frame.
While Opposition parties like Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) had earlier been urging for the polls to be postponed owing to the pandemic, they later held talks over the sharing of seats in the RJD and Congress-led Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance).
The incumbent BJP and Janata Dal-United (JDU) coalition government have also begun preparations for the polls. The central leadership of the BJP had clarified that the NDA will go to Bihar polls under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
In the previous Assembly elections held in the state in 2015, JDU, RJD and Congress had fought the elections together under the Mahagathbandhan banner.
On the other hand, BJP led NDA had fought the elections with Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and other allies.
RJD with 80 seats had emerged as the single largest party in the 2015 Assembly elections, followed by JDU (71), and BJP (53). However, BJP got the largest vote share (24.42 per cent), followed by RJD with 18.35 per cent and JDU (16.83 per cent).
After the polls, however, a rift emerged between JDU and the RJD in 2017, leading to CM Nitish Kumar snapping ties and rejoining ties with the BJP-led NDA to retain power in Bihar. (ANI)