New Delhi: Amid a raging pandemic, the first major elections for a new Assembly in Bihar will be held in three phases – October 28, November 3 and 7. Counting of votes will be held on November 10 for the 243 member Assembly.
Announcing the Bihar Assembly poll schedule here, the Election Commission said this would be a “historic” election for being the biggest one in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, terming it as the “new normal”. India has the second highest number of COVID positive cases in the world after the US.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said because of the pandemic protocol, the voting time had been increased by an hour (except in Left Wing Extremism-hit areas), as also separate enclosures will be erected for COVID positive people as well as those in quarantine.
Arora added that the situation has changed significantly since the last elections to the Delhi Assembly and said that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a new normal in every aspect of life.
The EC said seven lakh hand sanitisers, 46 lakh masks, six lakh PPE kits, 6.7 lakh face shields and 23 lakh pairs of hand gloves have been arranged for the Bihar polls.
Postal ballot facility will be provided wherever required and requested for. Social distancing norms will need to be followed at public gatherings during the poll campaign, Arora said.
Arora also said instances of hate speech will be also dealt with harshly by the Election Commission.
Voting for the first phase on October 28 will cover 71 assembly constituencies, while the second-phase voting on November 3 will cover 94 seats. The third phase of voting on November 7 will cover 78 assembly seats. Counting of votes for all seats will take place on November 10.
In the Assembly elections, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will be seeking a fourth term, though he won from a different coalition with RJD last time. After switching over, now Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United is running the government in alliance with Bharatiya Janata Party. On the Opposition front is Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress alliance. There are other regional parties also in what is called the Grand Alliance of the opposition, with Left parties yet to decide on their electoral stance.
(With inputs from PTI)