New Delhi September 25th
The Bihar election will be held in three phases on October 28, November 3 and 7 and the results will be announced on November 10, the Election Commission said today. Bihar has to elect a new 243-member assembly by November 29.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora called it a “historic election” and the world’s biggest in the time of the coronavirus. There will be an extra voting hour, separate voting for Covid patients, suspects and those in quarantine, and no physical contact during the campaign, he announced.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who leads a coalition with the BJP, will fight for a fourth term in these polls, with the opposition RJD of jailed former chief minister Lalu Yadav and the Congress challenging him. The ruling National Democratic Alliance includes Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United, the BJP, Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha, which recently switched from the opposition alliance.
The ruling coalition’s seat-sharing talks are likely to be hamstrung by tense internal dynamics; Chirag Paswan has been targeting Nitish Kumar openly and has been sending out mixed signals. He is also rattled by the entry of Jitan Ram Manjhi, who has a similar vote base and expects a bigger share in the contest than he is likely to get.
The opposition, led by Lalu Yadav’s son Tejashwi Yadav, is likely to target the ruling coalition over its handling of the coronavirus crisis and the fallout on migrants, besides the floods in the state. The centre’s controversial farm bills that were passed in parliament despite opposition protests has also armed Tejashwi Yadav with an issue to target what he calls an “anti-farmer” government. This morning, he launched his campaign on a tractor to drive home the point.