April 17, 2024

The Bihar

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Bihar poll schedule announcement deferred till Wednesday: Will aspirational voters think differently?

3 min read

bihar-assembly-election-2015The Bihar election schedule was not announced on Tuesday as planned. The Election Commission — Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and two Election Commisioners , AK Jyoti and Om Prakash Rawat — met on Tuesday to take a final call on dates and number of phases. The announcement of Bihar polls by the EC is now expected on Wednesday, sources said.

Deciding on the poll schedule is tricky for the Election Commission considering that some big festivals fall in the months of October and November — Dussehra, Lakshmi Puja, Kali Puja, Diwali, and Chatt.  It looks like the time between the announcement of the election schedule and notification of polls will be shortened, the way it happened during Maharastra and Delhi assembly polls. This means that the political parties will have to hurry in finalizing names of their candidates, at least for the first phase of polling.

The elections are expected to be held in multiple phases which may begin in mid-October and stretch till November. Last assembly elections in 2010 were held in six phases and continued for 30 days. Results were declared in the following four days. This time the poll schedule could follow the same pattern.

The electoral bugle has already been sounded both by the BJP-led NDA and the grand alliance of the rival secularist parties – RJD-JD(U)-Congress. With the announcement of poll schedule, model code of conduct will be immediately in effect, which necessarily means no official announcements, which may have a bearing on influencing voters mind, can be made till the elections are over.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had four major‘parivartan’ rallies in Bihar. He also had two official outings in Patna and Ara, where he announced a number of central schemes for development of Bihar, including a special package of Rs 1.65 lakh crore.

The announcement led to a war of words between the BJP and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Nitish countered PM’s offer with a Rs 2.70 lakh crore development plan in the next five years that would include free electricity and drinking water connection in every household.

The expected poll schedule announcement was one of the reasons why Modi government announced the implementation of One Rank One Pension scheme on Saturday.  Though the number of ex-servicemen in Bihar is not as huge as compared to states like Haryana, Punjab, Utrakhand, Himachal Pradesh, it gives a big talking point for the BJP in convincing voters that the Prime Minister delivers on his promises.

Recent developments at the Centre and the way campaigning for Bihar elections have shaped up in the state, clearly suggest that these elections will not merely decide who gets to rule the state for the next five years. The results will have a significant bearing on national politics. The Bihar election results will also shape the way in which the Winter Session of Parliament will proceed.

The stakes are high for both Narendra Modi and the rival secularist brigade, notwithstanding the fact that one of the foremost secularist icon and titular head of fractured Janata Parivar, Mulayam Singh Yadav decided to take a separate path and contest Bihar elections on his own. Even before the Samajwadi Party dumped Janata Parivar, it was Sharad Pawar-led NCP which decided to walk out of the alliance over seat-sharing issues.

All eyes are on AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi – whether or not he fields candidates. Owaisi had a rousing rally in Muslim dominated Kisanganj, where he had indicated that his party might contest on 25 seats. But there is no official confirmation on that yet. There is a great deal of concern on RJD-JD(U)-Congress camp on Owaisi’s prospective move. The BJP-led NDA is looking at Owaisi’s moves with heightened curiosity.

While the nation will be hooked to heat and dust raised during polling in Bihar, Narendra Modi will have to stretch on his physical strength as he would be fasting for 10-days during Navaratri, the time when the campaigning would be at its peak. Will an aspirational Bihar think differently in these elections or will it opt for what Lalu Yadav claims isMandal Part II?

Courtesy: First Post

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