After high-voltage campaigning and exchange of barbs, polling for 49 of the 243 seats in Bihar assembly elections got underway on Monday morning. A large number of people lined up at booths since early morning to cast their vote amidst reports of malfunctioning EVMS from several parts.
Over 12% voting was reported from different parts till 9 am. A total number of 1,35,72,339 electorate will cast their votes for which 583 candidates, including 54 women, are in the fray.
The five-phase polls that end on November 5 will not only be a test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal and the BJP’s reform agenda, but also a fight for survival for Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and rehabilitation of his rival-turned-ally, RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
The first phase of voting in 49 constituencies spread across nine districts sees 1,35,72,339 voters decide the fate of 583 candidates. Of these 49 seats, the ruling Janata Dal (United) had won 29 in 2010. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was with the JD(U) in the last election, had won 13 seats, while the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) had clinched four.
Security is tight for the first phase as six of the nine districts going to the polls are affected by Left-wing extremism. With the fear of a Maoist attack looming large, the Election Commission has decided to deploy 87,600 paramilitary personnel for poll duty.
The results of the high-voltage elections will be announced on November 8. Opinion polls by at least eight agencies and TV channels have pointed to a hung assembly with the two major alliances going neck-and-neck. While four of these have given the BJP-led NDA a slight advantage, two have made it a clear winner. One of the surveys has tilted the scale in favour of the so-called grand secular alliance of the JD(U)-RJD-Congress.
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) October 12, 2015
Urging all those voting today in Bihar to vote in large numbers. I particularly urge my young friends to cast their vote.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 12, 2015
A win in Bihar will give the BJP more seats in the Rajya Sabha, making it easier to pass key reformist legislations – such as the controversial Goods and Services Tax bill — which have been stuck because the ruling alliance at the Centre does not have the numbers in the upper house.