PATNA: Fifty-five seats across seven districts vote today in the fourth phase of Bihar assembly elections, with stakes high for the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In 2010, BJP had won 26 out of 55 seats spread across seven districts of Muzaffarpur, East Champaran, West Champaran, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Gopalganj and Siwan. Its then ally JD(U) had emerged victorious in 24. RJD had won two seats and three seats were won by independent candidates.
But the scenario has changed this time. From the ‘Grand Alliance’ camp, Rashtriya Janata Dal has fielded candidates in 26 constituencies followed by Janata Dal-United in 21 and the Congress 8.
From NDA, the BJP has fielded its nominees in 42 seats, Lok Janshakti Party in 5 and Hindustanti Awam Morcha and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) in 4 seats each.
A total of 1,46,93,294 electorate will cast vote on 14,139 polling stations to elect their representatives from 776 candidates of which 57 are women.
On the basis of assessment of security situation, polling will be held from 7 am to 5 pm in 43 constituencies, while it will be shortened by one hour in 8 seats and voting would end at 3 pm in four seats, Additional Chief Electoral Officer R Lakshamanan said.
He put the number of polling stations in LWE (Left Wing Extremist) affected areas at 3043.
Altogether 1163 companies (each comprising 100 personnel) of Central Paramilitary Force and state police will be posted to ensure free and fair elections.
A total of 38 motor boats will be pressed into services for riverine patrolling.
Balloting has already completed on 131 seats in the earlier three rounds. After completion of fourth phase, voting would be over in 186 seats. The last phase of polling is scheduled on November 5 on the remaining 57 seats.
Counting of votes is on November 8.
The fourth phase saw high voltage campaigning with both BJP-led NDA and JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance accusing each other of trying to polarise voters on communal lines.
“If BJP loses Bihar elections even by chance, though victory or defeat will happen in Patna, there will be bursting of firecrackers in Pakistan,” BJP chief Amit Shah had said at a rally at Raxual in East Champaran district on Thursday, three days before the fourth phase polling.
Rivals JD(U), Congress and RJD saw the comment as an attempt to communalise voters for the next two rounds on 112 seats and approached the Election Commission.
Acting on the complaint, the state Election Office has sought report from District Magistrate of East Champaran and West Champaran on the remark.
Mr Lalu Prasad slammed Mr Shah linking the controversy with the pride of the state alleging the remark was an affront on the citizens of Bihar particularly backwards, EBCs, Dalits and minorities who are “firmly rooting” for ‘Grand Alliance’.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed two rallies at Gopalganj and Muzaffarpur before the campaign ended last evening.
Continuing with his earlier attack on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, the PM again alluded to the alleged “sinister plan” of both of them carve out 5 per cent quota from OBC, SC and ST to give to a particular community.
Prominent personalities whose fate would be decided in this phase are senior minister Ramai Ram (Bochaha, SC seat), Ranju Geeta (Bajpatti) and Manoj Kushwaha (Kudni).