In what is being termed as one of the biggest elections to be held during the Covid-19 pandemic globally, Bihar will go to polls in three phases next month and results will be announced on November 10, the Election Commission said as it also released a set of unprecedented arrangements and rules for campaigning and voting.
The 243-member Bihar assembly will see voting on October 28, November 3 and 7 from 7 am to 6 pm, instead of the standard 7am-5pm schedule to accommodate Covid-19 patients, suspects and those in quarantine during the last hour of voting. This will, however, not be applicable, in the Left-wing extremism affected areas.
Janata Dal (United) chief Nitish Kumar, who seeks a fourth term, along with coalition partners BJP and Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party under the NDA banner will take on the Tejashwi Yadav-led RJD and Congress combine in the absence of incarcerated RJD patriarch Lalu Prasad Yadav. The handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, migrants distress and job losses owing to the nationwide lockdown and the farmer crisis that is picking pace remain the top issues at stake.
Amid much apprehension over the spread of the virus during the mammoth poll exercise, a slew of measures have been put in place.
Wearing face masks during every election related activity is mandatory, at the entry of poll premises thermal scanning of all persons will be carried out, sanitizer to be made available at all locations, compulsory social distancing measures to be in place. “As far as practicable, large halls should be utilised to ensure social distancing,” an official statement by the EC read.
While physical contact during rallies is prohibited, political parties and candidates can hold rallies as part of their campaign amid strict social distancing norms.
During door-to-door campaigning, a maximum of five persons including the candidate and excluding security personnel will be allowed.
In a first, candidates will have the option to deposit the security amount for contesting the elections online.