Will Nitish Kumar get a fourth term? Voting begins in Bihar today

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Bihar Assembly Election 2020: Nitish Kumar, 69, faces several challengers in Bihar’s elections. (File)

New Delhi:
The three-phase election in Bihar, which would decide whether Nitish Kumar gets a fourth term as chief minister, begins today with voting on 71 of the state’s 243 seats. His challenger is RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, whose pledge of 10 lakh jobs has proven to be a huge draw amid the lockdown and widespread unemployment. The third factor in this election is Chirag Paswan, the son of the late party leader Lok Janashakti Ramvilas Paswan, whose rebellion against the leadership of Nitish Kumar is suspected of being supported by the BJP. The party is seen to develop a distance with Nitish Kumar after receiving ground-level information that he is no longer a political asset. The election is taking place in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic and the electoral commission has drawn up elaborate security protocols.

Here’s your 10-point cheat sheet for this great story:

  1. The Election Commission has issued detailed guidelines that include lowering the voter limit for a voting booth from 1,600 to 1,000, staggered voting hours and a postal voting system for those over 80 or infected people. Electronic voting machines will be disinfected. Thermal scanners, hand sanitizer, soap and water will be made available to voters. Voting begins at 7 a.m.

  2. The weeklong campaign was a clear indication of the growing distance between the ruling allies – BJP and Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United. There was little overlap and with the exception of Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, no other BJP leader campaigned for the JDU. The posters and billboards of either party made no mention of the other.

  3. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his three rallies in the state so far, has made only a cursory mention of Nitish Kumar, whom he and Amit Shah had accepted as the face of the NDA in Bihar. He had sought votes solely for the NDA and made cursory references to Nitish Kumar towards the end of his speech, which had raised eyebrows.

  4. The campaign also saw Tejashwi Yadav – the political heir to Lalu Yadav and the leading ministerial candidate of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and left-wing parties, come of age in terms of mass appeal. His rallies were crowded, and his party said the pledge to provide 10 lakh jobs at its first cabinet meeting generated much enthusiasm among the population. The 31-year-old RJD leader has designed his campaign around issues such as employment and unemployment, unlike his father who has always championed the issue of caste dignity.

  5. The pressure on the allies in power has been visible. While the chief minister, known for his calm exterior, has repeatedly lost his temper, the BJP, after repeatedly mocking the 31-year-old former chief vice minister for his promise to ‘jobs, included a pledge of 19 lakh jobs in his election. manifest.

  6. Halfway through the campaign, Chirag Paswan, who criticized Mr Kumar first for his alleged lack of initiative in bringing migrants home and then for a series of questions, rebelled against the leadership of Nitish Kumar and said his party will run solo. . He also declared his loyalty to the BJP and said he wanted a BJP candidate for the top post. While the BJP has made strong remarks, stating that Nitish Kumar will remain its top cabinet candidate and that anyone who does not accept his leadership will not be part of the NDA in the state, it has taken no action against him.

  7. Chirag Paswan, who joined politics after his film career ended, has also become a right-wing leader in the state, far from his father’s secular credentials. With the support of Triple Talaq, the removal of Section 370, and the promise of a temple for the goddess Sita at Sitamarhi, he is seen as proving his worth in the BJP and could play the role of a political disruptor in the State which has so far been ruled by secular leaders.

  8. Mr Kumar, who split from the NDA after Narendra Modi was named his candidate for prime minister, won the 2015 Grand Alliance election with Congress and Lalu Yadav. But halfway through the term, he broke the alliance over corruption allegations against Tejashwi Yadav and partnered with the BJP to form a new government.

  9. Imamganj’s seat in Gaya is expected to witness a high-stakes battle, with former head of Minister HAM (S), Jitan Ram Manjhi, taking the place of former assembly speaker and candidate by RJD Uday Narayan Choudhary. In Jamui, the daughter of former Union Minister Digvijay Singh and BJP candidate Shreyasi, who won shooting gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, will take on sitting RJD lawmaker Vijay Prakash.

  10. The second and third phase of state elections will be held on November 3-7. The counting of the votes will take place on November 10.

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