Bihar will have an unusually long six-phase poll from October 21 to November 20 for its 243 assembly seats in 38 districts, 33 of which are Naxal affected.
An estimated 5.50 crore electorate would exercise their franchise in the month-long exercise with polling for the sixth and final phase on November 20. The counting of votes would take place on November 24.
The second, third, fourth and fifth phases would be held on October 24, 28, November one and November nine. Polling would be held through Electronic Voting Machines in 56,943 polling stations spread across the state. The announcement was made by Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi along with other two Election Commissioners V S Sampath and H S Brahma at a press conference here on Monday.
Quraishi said that the code of conduct has come into force with immediate effect and the Exit and Opinion Polls would be banned during the poll exercise.
On the Naxal threat in the elections, the CEC said: "we have taken into consideration the ground reality and we have adequate forces to ensure free and fair polls".
Asked about Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s plea for availability of Central forces in all polling booths, he said that the poll panel would keep the Chief Minister's request in mind while deciding the deployment plan. Bypolls for Banka Lok Sabha seat, which became vacant following the death of sitting MP Digvijay Singh, will be held on November one.
The poll exercise is starting a week after the closing of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi to make available adequate Central forces. A request to this effect was made by Home Ministry earlier.