28 Oct 2020
Voting begins in Bihar; PM says, "Follow coronavirus-related precautions"
The high-stakes Bihar polls began today as voters of 71 out of the total 243 seats chose their pick, amid restrictions levied due to coronavirus pandemic.
Urging voters to exercise their rights, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said they must maintain a do gaz distance and wear masks.
"Yaad rakhen, pehle matadaan, phir jalapaan!" wrote the PM on Twitter.
Here are more details.
Will incumbent Nitish Kumar get another term?
Nitish Kumar of the JD(U) is eyeing a fourth term in Bihar while facing strong opposition from Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD. Yadav is the chief ministerial face of the grand alliance, which also includes Congress.
The CM has also been challenged by LJP's Chirag Paswan, the son of deceased Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.
Voting for other two phases will happen in November.
RJD fielded candidates in 42 seats, JD(U) in 35
Of the 71 seats, JD(U) has fielded candidates in 35, while ally BJP is contesting on 29 seats.
RJD fielded the maximum number of candidates for the first phase of polls, 42; while Congress is contesting on 20 Assembly seats.
LJP fielded candidates in 41 seats, which includes the 35 seats contested by JD(U).
952 men and 114 women are testing their fates today.
BJP's bastion Gaya and Congress stronghold Kahalgaon will vote today
Today, voters in the Gaya Assembly segment will also choose their favorite. This constituency has been a BJP bastion for the last 30 years.
Dinara, the hometown of Minister of Department of Science and Technology, Jai Kumar Singh, also votes today; so does Kahalgaon, from where Congress won 12 times, and Mokama, where local strongmen are usually preferred by voters.
Four ministers of JD(U) are contesting today
Moreover, as many as eight members of Kumar's Cabinet are testing their fates today.
Among the eight, four are from JD(U) and four are members of the BJP.
Education Minister Krishna Nandan Verma (Jehanabad), Transport Minister Santosh Kumar Nirala (Rajpur), Rural Works Department Minister Shailesh Kumar (Jamalpur), Jai Kumar Singh (Dinara) are the JD(U) members contesting the polls.
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Revenue Minister, Agriculture Minister also seeking votes
Among the BJP members contesting are Agriculture Minister Prem Kumar, Labor Resources Minister Vijay Kumar Sinha, SC & ST Welfare Minister Brij Kishor Bind, and Revenue Minister Ram Narayan from Gaya, Lakhisarai, Chainpur (Kaimur), and Banka respectively. In total, 1,066 candidates are contesting today.
First polls being held under shadow of coronavirus
These elections also serve as a litmus test for Election Commission, which meticulously planned the polls considering the coronavirus situation.
Besides making masks and hand sanitizers mandatory, EC also reduced the cap on voters, allowing 1,000, and not 1,600, to cast votes at one polling booth.
The polling hours were also staggered and postal ballots allowed for those aged above 80 or those infected.
PM Modi's message can be read here
बिहार विधानसभा चुनावों में आज पहले दौर की वोटिंग है।— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 28, 2020
सभी मतदाताओं से मेरा आग्रह है कि वे कोविड संबंधी सावधानियों को बरतते हुए, लोकतंत्र के इस पर्व में अपनी हिस्सेदारी सुनिश्चित करें।
दो गज की दूरी का रखें ध्यान, मास्क जरूर पहनें।
याद रखें, पहले मतदान, फिर जलपान!
Explosives found in Aurangabad, defused by CRPF
After polling began at 7 am, sporadic incidents of EVM malfunctioning emerged from different Assembly constituencies. Reports said two Improvised explosive devices were found from a polling booth at Aurangabad and were quickly defused by CRPF personnel.
Thereafter, security was tightened and the area put on alert.
To note, the results of the polls will be announced on November 10.