Bihar Elections: Election Commission committed to curbing black money entering polls

Election Commission committed to curbing black money entering polls

Election Commission committed to curbing black money entering polls

The Bihar Election Commissioner’s office is taking no chances with the forthcoming polls in Bihar. A lot of meticulous planning has taken place before finalizing the poll dates which are being held in 5 phases. The Election Commission has ensured that the dates don’t clash with the upcoming festival season and have factored in adequate time to move the paramilitary forces from one area to another, in between poll dates. To ensure free and fair elections, 50,000 paramilitary will be deployed across the state.

Over the years, Bihar has witnessed various illegal activities to win over voters and include circulation of counterfeit currency, distribution of liquor, and increased presence of illegal and legal weapons, in addition to generous handouts of black money. The Election Commission has identified 62 constituencies that are especially vulnerable to black money distribution and measures are being taken to curb it.

Recently, the administration had seized Rs 10 lakh in fake currency from West Champaran district. As a preventive measure, 40 poll monitoring observers drawn from Income Tax, Central Audit Services and Customs shall be deployed at various locations, to ensure strict compliance of election code. Earlier, the Election Commission had organised a one-day workshop to sensitise all concerned officials on Standard Operating Procedures during elections.

In another development aimed at strengthening the voting system, the Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi announced that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) will carry all candidates’ picture to further assist voters. This was done after it was felt that several voters got confused with similar sounding names. This new facility will further help voters in giving their vote to the candidate of choice.

On Friday, major political leaders attended the Bihar Conclave organised by a media channel. Some of the speakers that drew attention were Nitish Kumar, the always colorful Lalu Prasad Yadav, Ravi Shankar Prasad from the BJP and a Bihari himself and Sushil Kumar Modi of the BJP and a potential CM candidate. Each of them had their take on the opposition.
Lalu Prasad was at his irrepressible best when he took on the Prime Minister criticising his visit to a mosque in Abu Dhabi. Taking a jibe at the PM he asked why the PM had not revealed the caste census findings. He further went on to ask why the PM had to go to UAE to visit a mosque when there were enough mosques in India. Ravi Shankar Prasad, on his part defended PM Modi’s achievements and spoke of what his party would do if it came to power.

Internal tussle on who really represents the Dalit vote

BJP has succeeded in bringing two of the best known Dalit leaders from Bihar into its alliance fold – Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitan Ram Manjhi. The problem for BJP is that both have already started to fight over who is the real representative of the Dalits. While Ram Vilas Paswan claims to be a Dalit leader of national status, Jitan Manjhi claims to be the true representative having served as a CM. Manjhi has gone further in accusing Ram Vilas Paswan for not doing enough for Dalits and in promoting his son and brothers in politics. How the rivalry will impact the Dalit voter needs to be seen.

Meanwhile, both are lobbying for maximum seats and it will be a challenge for Amit Shah to accommodate both and also keep them happy. Some reports suggest that HAM may get 25 Legislative Assembly seats and 1 Rajya Sabha seat, while Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP may be allocated 30 Legislative Assembly seats and 1 Rajya Sabha seat. BJP is likely to announce the seat sharing list anytime now.

Politician in focus: Jitan Ram Manjhi (Born 6 October 1944)

Born in Gaya, Jitan Ram Manjhi has served as Bihar’s 23rd Chief Minister. The Dalit leader has been a member of the Congress party (1980-1990), Janata Dal (1990-1996), Rashtriya Janata Dal (1996-2005), and JD(U) (2005-2015). He has served under various Chief Ministers in Bihar including Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Jagannath Mishra, Chandrashekhar Singh, Bindeshwari Dubey, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Rabri Devi and Nitish Kumar.

He formed his own party Hindustani Awam Party (HAM) this year in July 2015 and has earlier served as Minister for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government. He became the Chief Minister after Nitish Kumar stepped down from office following poor performance during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He served as Chief Minister of Bihar from 20 May 2014 to 20 February 2015 but resigned due to differences with former Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Constituency in focus: Bettiah

Bettiah is the administrative headquarters of West Champaran district and located near the Indo-Nepal border. Bettiah was the launch pad of Mahatma Gandhi’s protest against the Indigo Plantations in 1917. As per 2011 Census, the city has a population of 132,209 with an Average Literacy Rate of 82.54%.

• Winner in 2010 Assembly Poll: Renu Devi, BJP
• Margin of win: 28,789 votes; 27.12% of total valid votes
• Runner-up: Anil Kumar Jha, Independent
• Male voters: 57,256; Female voters: 48,484; Total: 106,174
• Polling %: 55.26
• Male Candidates who contested: 17; Female Candidates: 1
• Polling stations: 189

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