Campaigning ended on Sunday for 35 constituencies in Bihar's drought-hit districts that go to polls on Wednesday in the fifth round of the six-phase state assembly elections.
About 8.1 million voters are eligible to vote in this round to determine the electoral fate of 490 candidates in the fray in eight districts - Gaya, Patna, Nalanda, Bhojpur, Arwal, Jehanabad, Nawada and Sheikhpura.
Though campaigning ended peacefully with no major incidents of violence reported, ensuring safe polling in this phase will be a challenging task for the Election Commission as well as the state government as almost a third of the constituencies are in Maoist-affected areas.
Till now, the four phases of the state elections - to pick a new 243-member legislative assembly - have passed off peacefully except for stray incidents of violence.
The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist early in November declared that it would intensify attacks to disrupt the election process and to enforce its boycott of the polls. As many as 33 of Bihar's 38 districts are Maoist-affected.
The campaigning saw top leaders of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) combine as well as the Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Left parties hitting the campaign trail.
These included Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) L K Advani and Rajnath Singh and Chief Minister and Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Nitish Kumar, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi. The canvassing frequently witnessed a war of words and was occasionally marred by personal attacks.
After Wednesday, the last round of the elections will be held Nov 20. Votes will be counted Nov 24.