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Bihar Elections: Big Test For Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad in Final Voting

NEW DELHI:  Voting has begun in 57 seats in the fifth and final phase of assembly elections in Bihar. With a substantial minority vote, the anti-BJP Grand Alliance led by Nitish Kumar is seen as favourites in this region, called Seemanchal.
Here are the latest developments:
  1. The 57 constituencies include 24 in Seemanchal region bordering West Bengal and are spread over nine districts of Madhubani, Darbhanga, Supual, Madhepura, Saharsa, Araria, Kisanganj, Purnea, and Katihar.
  2. A total of 1,55,43,594 people are eligible to vote to decide the fate of 827 candidates, including 58 women.
  3. Prominent among those whose fate will be decided in the last phase include senior minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav of Janata Dal (United ) or JD(U) (Supual), Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD Legislature party leader Siddiqui (Alinagar), Minister Narendra Narayan Yadav (Alamnagar) and Lalu Prasad’s close aide Bhola Yadav (Bahadurpur).
  4. Except for two seats, polling will take place in the remaining 55 constituencies from 7 am to 5 pm.
  5. In the two Naxal-hit constituencies – Simri Bhakhtiyarpur and Mahisi in Saharsa district – polling time has been cut short by two hours and would end at 3 pm.
  6. Like in the previous four phases, there is a bitter fight between the NDA and the ‘Grand Alliance’ of JD(U), RJD and the Congress in all 57 seats. This round would also be watched keenly to see if All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) of Hyderabad lawmaker Asauddin Owaisi manages to successfully launch itself in Bihar.
  7. AIMIM has fielded six candidates in Seemanchal areas where Muslim voters are present in large numbers.
  8. In 2010, the BJP had bagged 23 out of these 57 seats where elections are taking place today. The JD(U), which was with the BJP in the last elections, had bagged 20 seats, the RJD of Lalu Prasad eight, Congress three, Lok Janshakti Party two and Independent one.
  9. The BJP has fielded a maximum of 38 candidates, while the LJP nominees are contesting in 11. The Rashtriya Lok Samata Party of Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha has put up candidates in five constituencies and Hindustani Awam Morcha of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi in three.
  10. Votes have already been cast for 191 of 243 seats in the Bihar assembly in the first four phases in what is seen as a very close contest. The fourth phase of polling for 55 seats saw almost 58 per cent of the electorate vote on Sunday. Votes will be counted on November 8.

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