BIHAR 1ST ROUND OF VOTING TODAY
Bihar started voting today for 1st round of three-phase election for 71 of the state’s 243 seats. Nitish The Election Commission has drawn up elaborate safety rules for voting in the shadow of Covid.
The Election Commission has issued detailed guidelines that include lowering the cap on voters for a polling booth from 1,600 to 1,000, staggering of polling hours and postal ballot facility for those aged above 80 or those infected. Electronic Voting Machines will be sanitised. Thermal scanners, hand sanitiser, soap and water will be made available for voters. The voting begins at 7 am.
The long campaign has been a clear indication of the increasing distance between the ruling allies – the BJP and Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United. There has been little overlap and barring Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, no other BJP leader campaigned for the JDU. Posters and hoardings of neither party made any mention of the other.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his three rallies in the state so far, made only a mention of Nitish Kumar. He had sought votes only for the NDA and made cursory references to Nitish Kumar towards the end of his speech, which had raised eyebrows.
The campaign also saw Tejashwi Yadav the Chief Ministerial candidate of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Congress and the Left parties, come of age in terms of mass appeal. His rallies have been a packed and his party said the promise of providing 10 lakh jobs at his first cabinet meet has generated much excitement among the people. The 31-year-old RJD leader crafted his campaign around issues like jobs and unemployment, unlike his father who always championed the issue of dignity of castes.
The pressure on the ruling allies has been visible. While the Chief Minister, known for his calm exterior, has lost his temper on several occasions, the BJP, after repeatedly mocking the 31-year-old former Deputy Chief Minister for his jobs promise, included a promise of 19 lakh jobs in its election manifesto.