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Longer polling time, online nominations: How COVID is affecting Bihar polls!

The term of the Bihar Assembly ends on November 29. According to the poll panel, there are 7.29 crore voters in the state, including 3.85 crore male and 3.4 crore female voters and 1.6 lakh service voters.

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bihar election

New Delhi, Sep 25 : In what will be India’s first full fledged election ever since the deadly COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, polling for the 243 Assembly seats in Bihar will take place in 3 phases between October 28 and November 7 this year. The Election Commission of India made the announcement in Delhi on Friday, adding that the votes will be counted on November 10.

But given this is a COVID-era election, polling time has been increased by one hour. “Now the polling time will be between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.” the EC said. This, the poll body believes, will help avoid queues. But it will not be applicable to the Left-Wing affected areas.

While the election could have been held in more phases, this was avoided considering the pandmeic and its possible effect on the security forces on duty. “Elections entail large scale deployment of security forces. We have tried to minimise their movement over long distances,” Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said.

The CEC also announced a number of new measures in view of the pandemic. Arora said, “Now nominations can be done online and offline also. And quarantined patients can vote at the end.”

Also, keeping the containment guidelines in view, the Commission has limited the number of persons, including candidates for door to door campaigning to five. Public meetings and road shows will be allowed subject to containment instructions issued by the Union Home Ministry/State.

“Face masks, sanitizer, thermal scanners, gloves, face shield and PPE kits shall be used during the electoral process ensuring social distancing norms. Hand gloves shall be provided to all the electors for signing on the voter registers and pressing buttons of EVM for voting,” it said.

“Covid-19 patients, who are quarantined will be able to cast their vote in the last hour of polling, at their respective polling stations, under the supervision of health authorities. This is beside the option of postal facility already extended to them,” the poll panel said.

The CEC said the poll panel has also revised norms for the number of persons accompanying the candidate and the number of vehicles at the time of nomination. “It has also created an optional facility to fill the nomination form and the affidavit online and submission of the same, after taking a print, before the Returning Officer concerned. For the first time, the candidates will have the option to deposit the security amount for contesting the elections online,” the poll panel said.

India has reported 86,052 new Covid-19 cases and 1,141 deaths in the last 24 hours taking its tally to 58,18,570, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Friday morning. This is why so many precautions are being taken for the Bihar election.

“The Bihar elections will be held in three phases. Elections for the 1st phase will take place on October 28 on 71 Assembly constituencies, elections for 2nd phase on 94 seats will take place on November 3 and 3rd phase poll on 78 Assembly seats on November 7,” the CEC announced.

With this the model code of conduct has also come into play.

The last date of nomination for phase 1 will be October 8 and the last date of withdrawal of candidature is October 12. For phase 2, the last date of nomination has been fixed as October 16, while the last date of withdrawal of nomination is October 19. For phase 3, the last date of nomination is October 20 and the last date of withdrawal of candidature October 23.

The term of the Bihar Assembly ends on November 29. According to the poll panel, there are 7.29 crore voters in the state, including 3.85 crore male and 3.4 crore female voters and 1.6 lakh service voters.

Election

Rs 8.5 lakh seized from car in Congress’ Patna office

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Shaktisinh Gohil

Patna Oct 22 : An Income Tax Department team raided Congress headquarters Sadaqat Ashram in Patna on Thursday evening and seized around Rs 8.5 lakh from a car parked inside the premises.

While Income Tax officials have not officially commented on the matter, Congress state incharge Shaktisinh Gohil confirmed the raid and termed it “mischief” by the ruling party, ahead of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s rally on Friday.

“It is just a ploy of the ruling party. They are scared of massive support for the Mahagatbandhan. Hence, they are deliberately involved in mischief,” he said.

“It is an office of a political party and anyone can park his car here. There are so many persons coming to this office every day and it is beyond our control of who is carrying what,” Gohil said.

Claiming that 23 kg gold and two kg silver were seized from the brother of a BJP leader in Nepal, he asked why Income Tax, the Enforcement Directorate, the Central Bureau of Investigation and other agencies have not zeroed in on that BJP leader.

“The fact of the matter is they (the NDA) have lost political ground in Bihar. Such a raid is due to their anger. Our leader Rahul Gandhi is coming tomorrow for a rally in Bihar and they want to sabotage his rally through doing such an action,” Gohil said.

Meanwhile, a source in the Election Commission said that cash above Rs 50,000 can be seized if that person fails to show valid proofs, while an amount up to Rs 10 lakh can be permitted to be transported if the person concerned has valid proof about the use of the money in case of marriages, health issues, purchase of properties or goods.

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Bihar Election: Lalu Yadav hits out at Nitish and Sushil Modi again

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Lalu-Prasad-Yadav

Patna, Oct 22 : Neither can you take Lalu Prasad out of Bihar politics nor Bihar out of the RJD supremo, who though in Ranchi jail has been closely monitoring and directing the action in the Assembly poll campaign.

On Thursday, he slammed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi as Mukhya Mauka Mantri (Chief Opportunist Minister) and up-mukhya dhokha mantri (Deputy Chief Deceive Minister) while referring to a cartoon uploaded from his tweeter handle.

“People have given many opportunities to you but you have only deceived them,” he said.

In the cartoon, Nitish Kumar and Sushil Modi can be seen urging voters to give them one more chance and the public saying: “how many more you need?”

Four days back, Lalu Prasad had taken another jibe at the Nitish Kumar government in a similar Twitter post in which the Chief Minister had tried to make an excuse of the fact that Bihar is not a maritime state and hence misses out on trade and commerce.

He also suggested that Nitish Kumar should retire and call it quits as he has toiled enough.

Like in 2019 parliamentary elections, the Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo is not present in person to campaign for his party in the Bihar assembly election starting October 28, but is monitoring every single step his son Tejashwi Yadav is taking.

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Bihar polls: 10 lakh jobs promise draws crowds to RJD

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Tejashwi Yadav

Masaudhi, Oct 22 : The promise by RJD’s chief ministerial candidate, Tejashwi Yadav to offer 10 lakh jobs to the people of Bihar if it forms government in the state has managed to draw crowds to the party’s election rallies ahead of the Assembly polls.

The lucrative offer of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Mahagathbandhan have been so far successful in bringing people out of their homes to listen to Tejashwi at the rally venues.

Tejashwi was in Masaudhi on Wednesday to campaign for an RJD candidate. People had turned out in large number. At one point, the situation seemed to be getting out of control even for police as the people were pushing the barricades and move beyond those makeshift barriers.

Some of the people even broke the barricades after Tejashwi told police personnel to allow them to come to the stage from where he was speaking.

Rahul Sharma, a native of Masaudhi, located around 30 km from Patna, said: “Announcements like 10 lakh jobs in government sector has created huge expectations among common people of Bihar. Hence, people from all section of the society are assembling at rally venues to see him (Tejashwi) and listen to his speech.”

Another resident, Ramesh Sagar, said: “There is no doubt about the anti-incumbency factor working against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as he is unable to take care of some of the key issues like inflation, non-creation of jobs, migration, etc. Poor people have become poorest due to the flawed policies.

“On the other hand, there is a politician like Lalu Prasad known for his socialist ways and advocacy for equality. Hence, they are looking at his son Tejashwi Yadav as option,” he added.

“The situation is similar to the 2014 parliamentary election where people of the country looking for the change. Let’s hope Tejashwi sticks to his and it does not turn out to be a ‘jumla’,” Sagar said.

Another Masaudhi resident Roshan Paswan said the people of Bihar have lost faith in Nitish Kumar’s leadership style.

“He had collected votes by opposing BJP but later joined hands with the same party for his vested interests. He had put the mandate aside. People of Bihar are aware of these developments… He (Nitish) is no longer a trustworthy individual for people of Bihar.”

“We are looking at Tejaswi Yadav as face of change. The people of marginalised category are looking upto him as ray of hope,” said Sri Krishna Sharma, who had come from Punpun, near Masaudhi.

In the Sankalp Patra of Mahagathbandhan, there are 25 points including loan waiver of farmers, non implementation of newly introduced agriculture bill, no fee for competitive examination, no travelling charges for students from district headquarters to examination centres, etc.

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