Bihar polls: Top Covid-19-hit districts to vote in third and final phase

Updated on Nov 06, 2020 10:44 PM IST

The polls on 78 seats in the 243-member Bihar legislative assembly will decide the fate of 1,204 candidates in fray for the final phase.

Voters stand in a queue to cast their votes for Bihar assembly elections.(PTI)
Voters stand in a queue to cast their votes for Bihar assembly elections.(PTI)
Hindustan Times, Patna | ByRuchir Kumar | Edited by Sparshita Saxena

Five of Bihar’s 15 districts, which go to polls in the third and final phase of assembly elections on Saturday, figure in the state’s top 10 Covid-19 districts in terms of the total number of cases.

The polls on 78 seats in the 243-member Bihar legislative assembly will decide the fate of 1,204 candidates in fray for the final phase.

The Grand Alliance or Mahagathbandhan had won 54 of these 78 seats. The JD(U), which won 24 seats, was then a part of the Grand Alliance, along with the RJD, which won 20 and Congress (10). The BJP, a major constituent of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), along with Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) and the Hindustani Awaam Morch (HAM), had won 19. Smaller regional parties had won the remaining five seats.

Poll dynamics have, however, changed this time. The JD(U) is now a part of the NDA. The LJP, which was with the NDA in 2015, has parted ways and also opened a front against the JD(U). It has put up its candidates on all 115 seats the JD(U) is contesting. Faced with dissensions, the JD(U) has had to expel 33 party workers for six years.

The RLSP is also out of the NDA. It has teamed up with Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) to form the Grand Secular Democratic Front, making it a triangular contest in many constituencies.

Also read: Bihar Assembly Election 2020 - Will exit polls hit the mark this time?

Purnia, Katihar, Araria and Kishanganj, which comprise the Seemanchal belt, have 24 of the 78 seats going to polls on Saturday. Seemanchal has a substantial Muslim population which varies between 30 per cent and 70 per cent among constituencies. The Grand Alliance had won 16 seats, including five by the JD(U), seven by the Congress, and 4 by the RJD. The BJP had won 6 in 2015. The CPI (ML) and the AIMIM won one each.

The Kosi region, comprising Supaul, Saharsa and Madhepura districts, has 13 of the 78 seats going to polls in the third phase. The JD(U) had won eight, RJD four and the BJP one in 2015. While unemployment and migration are the common poll across the state this time, voters in the Kosi region are also upset over the recurrent floods.

The twin districts of Champaran will see a contest on 12 of the 78 seats in the third phase. The BJP had won seven of them, JD(U) one, RJD two, Congress and independent one each in 2015. Of these, the BJP had won three in West Champaran, JD(U) one, Congress and Independent one each. In Purbi (east) Champaran, the BJP had won four and RJD two.

In 2015, the JD(U) had won nine of the 21 seats going to polls in the third phase in Mithilanchal region comprising districts of Darbhanga, Madhubani, Samastipur and Sitamarhi. The BJP won four, RJD six and Congress two.

The six constituencies in Muzaffarpur and two in Vaishali district that go to polls in the third phase, make for the remaining eight seats. The RJD had won five (three in Muzaffarpur and two in Vaishali), BJP two and Independent one.

The BJP had drawn a blank in Madhubani, Samastipur, Madhepura and Saharsa in 2015.

Also read: BJP’s Vinay Bihari looks to win Lauriya for the third time

For the final phase, the JD(U) has put up 24 candidates, BJP 19, RJD 20 and Congress 10, while other smaller regional parties have five candidates.

Several heavyweights, including two ministers in the Nitish Kumar government Narendra Narayan Yadav from Alamnagar constituency and Bijendra Prasad Yadav from Supaul, both JD(U) candidates, are among the 1,204 candidates in the fray in this round.

Veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadav’s daughter Subhashini Bundela alias Subhashini Sharad Yadav, a Congress candidate, is pitted against JD(U) MLA Niranjan Kumar Mehta from Bihariganj constituency in Madhepura district. Nikhil Mandal, grandson of BP Mandal, who chaired the Mandal Commission and a former chief minister, is contesting the Madhepura seat on a JD(U) ticket.

The total number of registered voters in the third phase is 2,35,54,071.

The first two phases were held on October 28 and November 3, with a voter turnout of 55.68 per cent and 55.70 per cent, respectively. Poll results are scheduled on November 10.

The Covid-19 factor

Of the districts going to polls in the third phase, Muzaffarpur ranks second to Patna with a total Covid-19 case count of 9,970 and 42 deaths on Friday; Purnia fourth with 8,289 cases and 16 deaths; East Champaran fifth (7,765 cases and 44 deaths), Madhubani seventh (7,021 cases and 23 deaths); and Katihar tenth with 6,589 cases and 11 deaths.

Araria ranked 11 in Covid case tally (6,593 total cases and 18 deaths), Saharsa ranked 14th (6,042 and 8 deaths), West Champaran- 15th (5,567 and 18 deaths), Supaul- 17th (5,043 and 14 deaths), Vaishali-18th (4,846 and 37 deaths), Samastipur-19th (4,755 and 34 deaths), Madhepura-22nd (4,382 and 13 deaths), Sitamarhi-24nd (3,895 and 12 death), Kishanganj-25th (3,847 and 11 deaths), Darbhanga-29th (3,565 and 31 deaths).

These districts, however, have a case positivity of less than 3 per cent, according to state health officials who did not wish to come on record. A positivity rate of less than 5 per cent for over two weeks is the accepted as per the World Health Organisation norm. The positivity rate, which is the percentage of people who test positive for the virus out of those tested, is a key indicator of gauging transmission of the disease.

The turnout of Covid-19 patients has been poor in the first two phases. Sources said the voter turnout of Covid-19 patients was around 125 in the first phase, with no infected person turning out to vote in many of the 38 districts.

Only two Covid-19 patients, one being a candidate, turned out to vote in Patna, which tops with 37,097 cases and 275 deaths as reported on Friday.

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