New Delhi: Bihar is all set to witness the second and the most crucial of the three phases of assembly elections in which over 2.85 crore voters will decide the fate of nearly 1,500 candidates in 94 constituencies on Tuesday (November 3).
Of the 1,463 candidates in the fray on the 94 seats, nearly 10 per cent (146) are women. Among the 2.85 crore voters, females account for 1.35 crore. Maharajganj has the maximum number of 27 candidates for any constituency while Darauli (04) has the lowest.
Of these 94 assembly segments spread across 17 districts, the fate of RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, the opposition Grand Alliance’s Chief Ministerial candidate, and his elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav, who is trying his luck from Hasanpur in Samastipur district, would be sealed in the EVM.
Two ministers Ram Sevak Singh (JDU) and Rana Randhir Singh (BJP) are trying their luck from Hathua and Madhuban in Gopalganj and East Champaran districts respectively. The ministers are sitting MLAs from the respective seats.
Many ‘bahubalis’ or their wives, sons, brothers or other close relatives are also contesting a number of seats in this phase.
31-year-old Tejashwi Yadav is seeking re-election from Raghopur in Vaishali district which he had wrested back for his party from the BJP’s Satish Kumar in 2015. Tejashwi has been aggressively trying to cash in on the anti-incumbency factor against the Nitish Kumar government.
The BJP leader had defeated Yadav’s mother Rabri Devi, a former chief minister, in 2010. The BJP has retained its trust in Satish Kumar, hoping that the giant killer will be able to do a repeat of 2010 when, like this time, JD(U) president and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was with the NDA.
Notably, Tej Pratap’s bid to retain Mahua could be challenged by the NDA through his estranged wife Aishwarya as its trump card. She is already taking an active part in the campaign for her father Chandrika Roy in Parsa, which he has represented a number of times and is seeking to retain on a JD(U) ticket this time.
All the four assembly segments in the capital city- Patna Sahib, Kumhrar, Bankipur and Digha ? are also going to polls in the second phase. All these are held by the BJP. State minister Nand Kishore Yadav is in the fray trying to retain Patna Sahib for a seventh consecutive term.
Multiple-term MLA Nitin Nabin faces a challenge in Bankipur from Congress candidate Luv Sinha, son of actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, a two-time local MP who lost the seat when he entered the fray after quitting the BJP. The
BJP has retained as its candidates Arun Sinha and Sanjiv Chaurasia for Kumhrar and Digha respectively.
Seven constituencies of Nalanda district, to which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar belongs, also go to polls in the second phase.
Barring Hilsa, represented by the RJD’s Shakti Singh Yadav, and Bihar Sharif, which two-term MLA Sunil Kumar retained on a BJP ticket in 2015, all the remaining five were won by the JD(U). The assembly segment named after the district is represented by state minister Shrawan Kumar who is seeking re-election from the seat.
The JD(U) has suffered a setback in the reserved Rajgir seat where its sitting MLA Ravi Jyoti, a former police inspector, is now the fray on a Congress ticket.
In the second phase, the RJD is contesting 56 of the 94 seats while its ally Congress is contesting 24. The CPI and CPI(M), which joined the Grand Alliance recently, are fighting four seats each. Quite a few seats are being contested by the CPI(ML), the Left outfit with the strongest presence in Bihar.
BJP has fielded candidates on 46 seats, another 43 are being contested by those with JD(U) tickets, while Mukesh Sahni’s VIP, the latest entrant in the NDA, is contesting the remaining five.
The LJP is contesting 52 seats, including the two it had won in 2015 contesting as an NDA constituent. The party has fielded one transgender candidate too in this phase.
Plurals Party leader Pushpam Priya Choudhary is also in the fray in Bankipur, apart from BJP`s Nitin Naveen.
According to the Election Commission, votes will be cast at a total of 41,362 polling stations set up across 17 districts. All of which except Patna, Bhagalpur, and Nalanda are situated north of the Ganges.
In the 2015 elections, the Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad had bagged 33 of these seats, the JD-U 30 and the Congress seven whereas the NDA had won only 22 seats.
Five years ago, Nitish Kumar`s JD-U fought the elections in alliance with the RJD and the Congress, while the NDA had Ram Vilas Paswan`s Lok Janshakti Party and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) in its camp.
In this poll fray, the JD-U has moved to the NDA camp, the LJP is fighting its own battle and the RLSP is a part of the Grand Democratic Secular Front.
After voting for 94 seats in the second phase, the remaining 78 constituencies will go to polls on November 7. The counting of votes will take place on November 10.
(With Agency Inputs)