Yesterday was the last day of campaigning with all parties trying to reach out to maximum voters in a last minute push to consolidate their effort. Bihar goes to polls for the 1st phase on 12 October in what is being seen as a make or break opportunity for parties and individuals, in an election that will have long term impact on how politics at the national level and state level is going to play out in coming times.
The battle doesn’t end on 12 October as there are four more phases to go with counting scheduled to take place on 8 November. It’s going to be a month of hectic campaigning for all parties, especially since pre-poll surveys are revealing mix results with contrasting trends. Some results are showing NDA having a clear advantage while others are indicating the Grand Alliance coming through.
Given the polarization attempts by various parties, the EC has issued an appeal to all parties to stick to the Model Code of Conduct and not vitiate the political atmosphere with personal attacks or bring out communal issues. The EC’s office is monitoring the polls closely and with heavy deployment of paramilitary forces, it is hoped the polls will proceed without any untoward incident.
Candidates contesting for some critical seats in the 1st phase
The first phase of polls will include the following districts: Samastipur, Begusarai, Khagaria, Bhagalpur, Banka, Munger, Lakhisarai, Sheikhpura, Nawada and Jamui. A total of 49 assembly seats will be contested.
Samastipur: The BJP candidate Renu Kumari is up against Akhtarul Islam Shaheen of RJD. Some other candidates include Poonam Devi, SP; Subhash Prasad Singh, Shiv Sena; Surendra Prasad Singh, CPI-ML (Liberation); Allama Shibli Nomani Halami, BSP.
Begusarai: Amita Bhushan, INC and she will coming up against Surendra Mehta, BJP; Bipin Kumar Paswan, BSP; Rajendra Prasad Singh, CPI(M); Dileep Kesari, SP, amongst others.
Khagaria: Poonam Devi Yadav, JD(U) and she will be contesting against Sanjay Kumar, CPI(M); Rajesh Kumar urf Rohit Kumar, HAM, amongst others.
Bhagalpur: Arjit Shaswat Choubey, BJP and he will be contesting against Ajeet Sharma, INC; Md Shahab Alam, BSP; Gopal Bharti, SP; Syed Bashar Ali, CPI(ML) Liberation, amongst others.
Banka: Zafrul Hoda, RJD and he will be contesting against Ram Narayan Mandal, BJP; Ajit Kumar Singh, BSP; Renu Kumari, CPM(ML) Liberation, amongst others.
Munger: Vijay Kumar ‘Vijay’, RJD will be contesting against Pranav Kumar, BJP; Kamleshwari Mandal, BSP; Nachiketa, Samata Party; Syed Mohammed Jawed, NCP, amongst others.
Lakhisarai: Ramanand Mandal, JD(U) and he will be contesting against Vijay Kumar Sinha, BJP; Moti Saw, CPI(M); Manoj Kumar, BSP; Ramashish Kumar, SP, Ram Pukar Mandal, Shiv Sena; Ravikar Kumar, Lok Dal, amongst others.
Sheikhpura: Randhir Kumar Soni, JD(U) and he will be contesting against Vijay Kumar Yadav, SP; Baleshwar Pandit, BSP; Krishna Nandan Yadav, CPI; Naresh Saw, HAM, amongst others.
Nawada: Rajballabh Prasad, RJD and he will be contesting against Ram Jatan Yadav, BSP; Indradeo Prasad, RLSP; Ranjeet Kumar, Shiv Sena; Savitri Devi, CPI(ML) Liberation, amongst others.
Jamui: Ajoy Pratap, BJP, and he will be contesting against Vijay Prakash, RJD; Md Abdul Baki, SP; Pramod Kumar Mandal, BSP; Rupesh Kumar Singh, CPI, amongst others.
RLSP releases its manifesto
Party chief Upendra Kushwaha, yesterday released the party manifesto at a public function. The party has focused on girl’s education, farmer welfare and youth. The party plans to rename Patna as Patliputra and Patna University as Gautam Buddha University.
Girl students studying in government schools and wishing to pursue higher studies outside the state will have their fees paid by the government which will also pay for their return air ticket once a year, under the Savitri Bai Phule Yojana. All government schools to be converted to English medium. Students will get educational loan at 2% interest. Opening of schools, colleges, technical education institutes in rural areas. Filling up of vacant teaching positions. Addressing teacher grievances at the earliest.
For farmers, there will be a separate budget to address the needs. A separate department will be set up to address crop loss issues within six months. Farmers will be given special high yielding seeds and fertilizer support along with better irrigation facilities. Farmers will be taken to other states to study crop models and techniques under Sahajanand Saraswati Kisan Paryatan Yojana. Jagdev Prasad Foodgrain Bank will be set up so that farmers can stock their output and release them when price realization is optimum. Facilitate employment for landless labourers to work with farmers under MNREGA.
For unemployed youth, George Fernandes Yuva Mission will be set up to help youth find jobs. Mobile training schools will be launched to provide training in rural areas. Free training will be provided to those undergoing handicrafts and handloom training.
Other promises include women welfare, fast track courts, health services and sports promotion.
Puja migration may increase voter turnout
Bihar has one of the largest number of workers who have migrated to other states to find work. They usually come back during the puja season, especially during the Chhath festival. But with elections happening just before Chhath Puja this year (15-18 Nov), it is likely that several people may return home early to vote. This augurs well for the election process if it results in an increase in voter turnout. This could also make a significant difference as the number of migrant workers is large and many are not able to make it back for elections in other years.
People in Bihar are highly conscious of their voting rights and migrant workers remain concerned with the situation back home. This year these numbers could well make a difference to major parties contesting, especially with the close contest being predicted by various pre-poll opinion surveys.
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