The stage is set for the second and arguably the most crucial of the three phases of the Bihar Assembly elections, in which more than 2.85 million voters will decide the fate of nearly 1,500 candidates on Tuesday.
Voting will take place on November 3 in 94 assembly segments, with more than a third of the 243 assembly members spread across 17 districts, all but three – Patna, Bhagalpur and Nalanda – are located north of the Ganges.
Among the candidates is RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, the chief ministerial candidate of the opposition Grand Alliance, who has aggressively tried to take advantage of the anti-outgoing factor against the Nitish Kumar government.
The 31-year-old is seeking re-election from Raghopur in Vaishali district which he snatched for his party from BJP’s Satish Kumar in 2015. The BJP leader beat Yadav’s mother, Rabri Devi, a former minister in chef, in 2010.
The BJP has kept its trust in Satish Kumar, hoping that the giant killer can remake the year 2010 when, like this time, JD (U) President and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was with the NDA.
Tejashwi’s older brother Tej Pratap Yadav is trying his luck from Hasanpur in Samastipur district, moving his base from Mahua to Vaishali.
It was said that there were fears in the RJD camp that Tej Pratap’s attempt to retain Mahua could be challenged by the NDA by his ex-wife Aishwarya as his trump card.
She is already actively involved in the campaign for her father Chandrika Roy in Parsa, whom he has represented on several occasions and is looking to keep on a JD (U) ticket this time around.
The capital’s four assembly segments – Patna Sahib, Kumhrar, Bankipur and Digha – will also be put to the polls in the second phase.
All of this is owned by the BJP.
Minister of State Nand Kishore Yadav is in the fray to try to retain Patna Sahib for a seventh consecutive term.
Multi-term MP Nitin Nabin faces a challenge in Bankipur from Congress candidate Luv Sinha, who is the son of actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, a two-time local MP who lost his seat when he entered the fray after leaving the BJP.
The BJP selected Arun Sinha and Sanjiv Chaurasia as candidates for Kumhrar and Digha respectively.
Seven constituencies in Nalanda District, to which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar belongs, also go to the polls in the second phase.
Except for Hilsa, represented by Shakti Singh Yadav of RJD, and Bihar Sharif, whom two-term MP Sunil Kumar retained from a BJP ticket in 2015, the other five were won by JD (U).
The segment of the assembly named after the district is represented by Minister of State Shrawan Kumar, who seeks re-election to the seat.
The JD (U) suffered a setback in Rajgir’s reserved seat where his sitting MP Ravi Jyoti, a former police inspector, is now fray over a congressional ticket.
Two other ministers Ram Sevak Singh (JDU) and Rana Randhir Singh (BJP) are trying their luck from Hathua and Madhuban in the districts of Gopalganj and East Champaran respectively. The ministers sit alongside the deputies of their respective seats.
Numerous “bahubalis” or their wives, sons, brothers or other relatives also compete for a certain number of seats.
Of the 1,463 candidates running out of the 94 seats, nearly 10% (146) are women. Among the 2.85 crore of voters, women represent 1.35 crore.
Maharajganj has the maximum number of 27 candidates for any constituency while Darauli (04) has the lowest.
Among the major parties, the RJD contests 56 of the 94 seats while its ally Congress contests 24. The CPI and CPI (M), which recently joined the Grand Alliance, are competing for four seats each. Many seats are contested by the CPI (ML), the most present left-wing party in Bihar.
The BJP candidates are in the fray in 46 seats, while 43 others are contested by those with JD (U) tickets. Mukesh Sahni’s VIP, the latest NDA participant, challenges the other five.
The LJP is contesting 52 seats, including the two it won in 2015 as a constituent of the NDA. The party also presented a transgender candidate in this phase.
The candidacy of Raju Tiwari and Raj Kumar Sah to retain Govindganj and Lalganj respectively is contested by the BJP.
According to the Election Commission, votes will be cast in a total of 41,362 polling stations.