The Bihar assembly polls, whose schedule is expected to be announced by the Election Commission this week, could be conducted over five to seven phases from mid-October.
The polls could be a month-long exercise and the new assembly could be elected before Diwali on November 11, reports said.
The Election Commission began working on the schedule after its team visited Bihar last month, sources told Hindustan Times. “We have time till November 29 to hold polls and there is no reason for us to advance the polls,” a central poll official had said last month.
Political analysts have dubbed this election the “battle for Bihar” as a lot is at stake for the RJD-JD(U)-Congress alliance led by chief minister Nitish Kumar and the NDA, which have started a high-pitched campaign.
Bihar elections: Six Left parties project a new front
The ruling JD-U and the RJD will contest in 100 seats in the Bihar assembly polls and the Congress will fight for 40, the three parties announced while unveiling an anti-BJP grand alliance in the state.
The Election Commission has ruled out the possibility of holding election in September or October because late monsoon rains could impede the exercise.
Chief election commissioner Nasim Zaidi and election commissioner Achal Kumar Jyoti have held consultations within the poll panel and with other agencies on the preparations.
Sources said the commission is consulting with the home and railway ministries, which facilitate security and transport, for fixing the dates.
As first steps, electoral rolls for Bihar have been notified and the state chief electoral officer was directed to initiate preparations, an official said.
The usual practice is to announce the poll dates 30 days to 45 days after the rolls are notified. This gives election officers time to consider objections of political parties and voters about the lists.
Maoist-affected areas could vote in the initial phases and the schedule might see a break to allow people to celebrate the six-day Chhath Puja.
This election will be webcast for the first time and voters can locate their polling booth on phones. Officials said the state election department has been told to set up more polling booths to avoid overcrowding. The election Commission will seek adequate security forces to conduct free and fair polls.
The expected announcement of the poll schedule by the Election Commission was one of the reasons for the government’s decision to roll out the one rank one pension scheme for retired military personnel.