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Bihar elections: EBCs, Muslims hold key to fourth phase poll result

The fourth and penultimate phase of polling in Bihar on Sunday offers 55 seats for the NDA and grand alliance (GA) in a bitterly-contested election so far.

india Updated: Nov 01, 2015 13:55 IST
Ashok Mishra
Polling in the fourth phase will take place in seven districts of north and western Bihar – West Champaran, East Champaran, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj and Siwan. West Champaran, East Champaran and Sitamarhi are situated along the India-Nepal border and have a high concentration of Muslims.
Polling in the fourth phase will take place in seven districts of north and western Bihar – West Champaran, East Champaran, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj and Siwan. West Champaran, East Champaran and Sitamarhi are situated along the India-Nepal border and have a high concentration of Muslims.(PTI Photo)

The fourth and penultimate phase of polling in Bihar on Sunday offers 55 seats for the NDA and grand alliance (GA) in a bitterly-contested election so far.

Stakes are high for both the BJP and JD(U), as they had together bagged 51 out of the 55 seats as NDA partners in 2010 polls. The RJD, against the NDA then, had won a solitary seat while three seats were won by independents. All the three independent MLAs are contesting as BJP nominees this time.

In the changed political equation, RJD is the main stakeholder of the GA as it has fielded candidates in 26 constituencies followed by JD(U) in 21 and Congress eight. Challenging the GA, the BJP has fielded candidates in 42 constituencies, LJP in five and HAM (S) and RLSP in four seats each.

The fourth phase polls are crucial for both the alliances since a better performance by any formation would place it ahead of the rivals in the race for government formation. In case of a close fight in the fourth phase, the fifth phase poll for the remaining 57 seats would be the game-changer.

Read|Bihar polls: Now, grand alliance looks to dent NDA in phase 4

Polling in the fourth phase will take place in seven districts of north and western Bihar – West Champaran, East Champaran, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj and Siwan. West Champaran, East Champaran and Sitamarhi are situated along the India-Nepal border and have a high concentration of Muslims.

Of the seven districts, the BJP had in 2010 established a clear lead in West Champaran, East Champaran, Gopalganj and Siwan districts by winning 21 seats while the JD(U) had won 14 seats. In Sheohar, Sitamarhi and Muzaffarpur districts, the JD(U) had gained marginally by winning 11 seats while the BJP had won eight and RJD bagged one seat.

Last time, the BJP and JD(U) had contested together and enjoyed each other’s vote share. But as rivals this time, and RJD on the side of the JD(U), the poll outcome will largely depend upon the voting pattern of the Yadavs and the extremely backward castes (EBCs) especially in Muzaffarpur and Sitamarhi districts.

Among prominent personalities in the fray in the fourth phase are senior ministers Ramai Ram (Bochaha), Ranju Geeta (Bajpatti) and Manoj Kushwaha (Kudhani) besides Purnamasi Ram (Valmikinagar), Shahid Ali Khan (Sursand) and Mahachandra Prasad Singh (Hahua).

An estimated 1.47 crore voters are eligible to cast vote in 14,139 polling stations to select their representatives from among 776 candidates including 57 women in the fray.

Full coverage:Battle for Bihar