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First phase of polling begins in Bihar Assembly elections
Patna, October 28, 2020
Voting began amidst tight security arrangements in the first phase of polling in the elections to the 243-member Bihar Legislative Assembly this morning.
Polling, which began at 7 am and will end at 6 pm in most places, is being held in 71 constituencies spread across 16 districts in the first phase.
More than 2.14 crore voters are eligible to vote in the first phase of polling, in which 1,066 candiates, including 114 women and 406 independent candidates, are in the fray.
Among the candidates whose electoral fate will be decided today are eight ministers -- Prem Kumar, Krishnandan Verma, Shailesh Kumar, Vijay Kumar Sinha, Jai Kumar Singh, Ramnarayan Mandal, Santosh Kumar Nirala and Brij Kishore Bind -- and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.
This is the first major election being held in the country amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
As many as 35 of the 71 constituencies that went to the polls today are in Naxalite-affected areas, where central paramilitary forces have been deployed to ensure smooth and peaceful polling.
As a precautionary measure, polling will end at 3 pm in four of them, at 4 pm in 26 and at 5 pm in five, official sources said.
Polling is being conducted under strict guidelines, including social distancing measures, thermal screening, wearing of masks and hand sanitisation, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the 71 seats that went to the polls, the JD(U) and the BJP, constituents of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), are contesting 35 and 29 seats, respectively. Their allies Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM) and Vikas Sheel Insan Party (VIP) have fielded six candidates and one candidate, respectively.
In the opposition Grand Alliance, the RJD is contesting 42 seats and the Congress 21. The CPI-ML has fielded eight candidates.
The LJP has put up 42 candidates, the RLSP 43 and the BSP 27.
In the last elections held in 2015, the RJD had won 27 of the seats that went to the polls today, while the JD(U) had won 18, the BJP 13 and the Congress 9. Four seats had gone to others.
As many as 94 constituencies will go to the polls in the second phase of voting on November 3 and 78 in the third phase on November 7. Counting of votes will be taken up on November 10.