Bihar Election: Voting Underway For 78 Assembly Seats In Final Phase
Polling is underway in 78 assembly segments of Bihar in the third and final phase of state elections on Saturday in which 2.35 crore voters are eligible to decide the fate of 1,204 candidates.
Casting of votes began at 7 a.m. at all 33,782 polling stations where as many Electronic Voting Machine sets and Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail machines have been installed and paramilitary forces deployed to maintain order, officials said.
Voting is simultaneously taking place for the Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat in West Champaran district where a by-election has been necessitated by the death of the sitting JD(U) MP Baidyanath Mahto.
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Of the total 2.35 voters in the 78 assembly segments, spread across 15 districts of north Bihar, 1.23 crore are men, 1.12 crore are women while 894 are in the third gender category, according to statistics provided by the Election Commission.
In addition, re-poll is being held at two polling stations of Hisua assembly segment in Nalanda district where votes were cast in the second phase on Nov. 3, the Election Commission said.
It said the re-poll has been necessitated by the EVMs getting damaged in a road accident.
Among the candidates in the fray, 37 belong to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United), 35 to the Bharatiya Janata Party, while five are contesting on tickets of junior National Democratic Alliance ally Vikassheel Insaan Party and one from the Hindustani Awam Morcha.
The candidates of the JD(U)-BJP include the Assembly Speaker and 12 members of the state cabinet.
The main opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal is fighting 46 seats in the final phase, while its ally Congress is in the fray in 25. Ultra-Left outfit Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist), which has joined the RJD-led Grand Alliance along with CPI and CPI(M), is contesting five seats in the final phase.
Chirag Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party is in the fray on 42 seats, including Govindganj, which it holds and where it is pitted against the BJP, which it claims to be supporting while being opposed to the JD(U).
The final phase of elections is also noteworthy because of the role the Owaisi factor might play.
Headed by fiery Hyderabad Member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen had registered a stunning victory in Kishanganj last year, defeating the Congress candidate whose son's election to Lok Sabha had necessitated the by-poll.
The AIMIM is in the fray in more than a dozen seats, mostly in the Kosi-Seemanchal region which is densely populated and has a high percentage of Muslim residents.
The NDA hopes that the party's ability to cut into Muslim votes will weaken the RJD and help the JD(U)-BJP combine.
Voting for the first phase was held on Oct. 28 and for the second phase on Nov. 3. Results will be out on Nov. 10.