Today Bihar witnessed its final phase (Phase 3) of assembly elections and recorded 55.22 per cent voter turnout according to Election Commission. In phase 3, things have gotten rough for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is against many rivals, including his former ally Chirag Paswan, leader of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
In this phase at least 1,204 candidates contested for the 78 assembly seats which are spread across 19 districts. Among these candidates include 382 independents; the last phase includes 1,094 male and 110 female candidates. In phase 1 of the election, held on October 28, witnessed 55.69 per cent polling of electoral response in the state and 53.51 per cent in the second phase which was held on November 3.
Prominent Candidates in Phase 3
The state of Bihar has some very eminent and prominent candidates in the final phase; these are BJP’s Niraj Kumar Singh contesting for Chhatapur seat, cousin of late actor Sushant Singh Rajput; Bihariganj’s candidate Subhashini Sharad Yadav of Congress, and daughter of former Union minister Sharad Yadav. Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary is contesting from the Sarairanjan seat, where an interesting triangular contest is seen between the parties of Janata Dal (United) (JDU), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and LJP.
Voting is also being held for the Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat, where a by-election was held after the death of the late JD(U) MP Baidyanath Mahato.
Though Bihar’s Mr Kumar tried to set an emotional tone by calling it his “last” election, NDA is seen to be facing its most challenging time in the final round of polls in Seemanchal which includes Kishanganj, Araria, Katihar and Purnia, Kosi that includes Supaul, Saharsa and Madhepura, Mithila that consists of Darbhanga and Madhubani and Muzaffarpur and Sitamarhi which comes under Tirhut.
The belt of Seemanchal gives an added assurance to the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance). Still, Asaduddin Owasi’s AIMIM, is contesting on 16 seats in the final round, this may cause a significant cut into Grand Alliance’s votes, and AIMIM could make its way to win one to two seats. There’s a neck to neck fight waiting for NDA in Purnia, Araria and Katihar.
The fate of Grand Alliance looks a little compromised in the Kosi belt too, ahead with only NDA old-timers such as ministers, Bijendra Prasad Yadav of Supaul and Alamganj’s Narendra Narayan Yadav are all set to retain their bastions. JD(U)’s nominee from Madhepura who is the grandson of former CM BP Mandal, Nikhil Mandal is in the fight too; it is an altogether different thing that the socialist staunch, who profoundly opposed Congress in the past, vehemently overjoyed with his daughter joining Congress.
Saharsa seat is eyed by Lovely Anand, wife of imprisoned former MP Anand Mohan, a fervent RJD contender. EBC Mallah leader Mukesh Sahni is also finding it difficult against RJD in Simri Bakhtiyarpur seat.
Other top contenders in this round are the former minister and senior RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui (Keoti), Lalu Prasad’s close attache Bhola Yadav of Hayaghat, BJP leader Sanjay Saraogi of Darbhanga, BJP’s Binod Narayan Jha from Benipatti, AIMIM’s Akhatarul Iman from Amour, old-timer RJD leader and minister in the past, Ramai Ram from Bochaha, BJP minister Suresh Sharma contesting from Muzaffarpur, JD (U)’s face Bima Bharati and Lesi Singh from Rupauli and Dhamdaha respectively.
Clashes amid Bihar phase 3 polling:
While voters were in the queue and were waiting for their turn to cast their votes, many unlawful situations cropped up.
In Purnea, police had to fire in the air to chase away people trying to disturb voting outside a booth under Dhamdaha assembly segment.
In Araria, RJD competitor from Jokihat seat, Sarfaraz Alam, sought debate by turning in the mood for casting a ballot with a badge of his party stuck in his shirt which is infringement of the model code of conduct. When asked about it, Alam smiled and didn’t offer any remark.
Araria District Magistrate Prashant Kumar said the issue had gone as far as anyone is concerned and legal activity would be taken in the episode. Alam, elder son of previous association serve Mohammad Taslimuddin is set in opposition to his more youthful sibling Mohammad Sahnawaz who conflicts with AIMIM party.
Last-minute appeals by parties:
Early in the morning before the third phase had begun, Mr Paswan, chief of LJP, said, “I have worked on the ground, working hard for the party all alone. One thing is clear, both the phases have confirmed this thing and the third phase will put a final stamp on it, that Nitish Kumar will never become the chief minister again.”
It is seen that Junior Paswan is quite adamant on the fact that he profoundly wants to drive Mr Kumar out from the race. His statements before, after and throughout the election campaign have been on the same lines. As seen in the previous two phases, candidates LJP have actively contested in several seats this time, and has brought in the sense of insecurity in the JD(U).
“I request all voters to participate in this festival of democracy in large numbers and set a new voting record. However, it is necessary to wear masks and maintain social distancing,” appealed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the voters that wear all geared up for the final phase of the Bihar election. Union Home Minister Amit Shah is also seen appealing to all the voters of the third and last phase in Bihar to vote in maximum numbers.
In a tweet by Mr Kumar, appealed to people for exercising their voting rights.
While the NDA looked confident until a few months ago, it seems that the ruling coalition has tried to have taken cautious note as appeals to voters came from senior BJP leaders like PM Modi and the face of NDA, Mr Kumar towards the end of the election campaign.
Amongst everyone else the 31-year-old chief ministerial face of RJD, Tejaswi Yadav also gave it a last shot and said, “I appeal to everyone to participate in this festival of democracy & cast their votes. In this election, Bihar will decide on its future. Nitish Ji is tired & he is unable to handle the state.”
The RJD, was once considered an election-winning machine of Bihar, has mentally prepared itself and is hoping for a comeback, energized by the hefty response well received by Tejashwi Yadav in his over two dozen rallies. The RJD has clanged to its former and old ally, the Congress, besides the Left parties by making a Mahagathbandhan. Rahul Gandhi, president of Congress, appealed voters to vote and strengthen democracy.
In the early hours of today, PM Modi appealed to citizens to “set another precedent” as surveying started in the last stage. PM, who went to 12 public meetings during the mission, had come out with an open letter routed to the individuals of the state on Thursday saying he “required” Mr Kumar in the state, so that the improvement of Bihar proceeded with unhindered.
Regardless of warnings by “extreme sceptics” about holding the Bihar assembly elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the circumstance so far was sensibly acceptable as two phases of casting votes have completed, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said on Thursday. “There was no deficiency of doubters, no shortage of sceptics, and no lack of outrageous pessimists who were making doomsday expectations for us. In any case, here we are so far in a sensibly decent shape,” he said.
The votes will be counted on November 10.