Polling has started for 71 assembly constituencies of Bihar in the first phase of three-phased elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 1,066 candidates -- 952 men and 114 women -- are in the fray in the first phase of elections being held in constituencies spread across 16 districts. The maximum number (27) are in the fray at Gaya Town and the minimum (5) at Katoria in Banka district.
Among major political parties, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U) is contesting in 35 of the 71 seats, its ally BJP is contesting 29. The Opposition RJD has fielded its candidates in 42 seats and its coalition partner Congress is in the fray in 20 assembly segments.
Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), headed by Chirag Paswan, is in the fray in 41 seats. Paswan recently pulled out of the NDA to "dislodge" the CM from power.
Top constituencies and candidates in the first phase of Bihar Election:
Jamui: Shreyasi Singh, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist shooter is making her debut at the age of 27 as the BJP candidate from Jamui. Shreyasi Singh is pitted against Vijay Prakash Yadav of the RJD, a sitting MLA whose elder brother Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav is a former Union minister and a close aide of party supremo Lalu Prasad.
Chirag Paswan, who represents Jamui in Lok Sabha, has said that he remains loyal to the BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and has assured full support of his party to the young debutant.
Imamganj: Imamganj seat in Gaya district, which falls under Aurangabad Lok Sabha constituency, will see a clash of titans. Former Chief Minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) president Jitan Ram Manjhi, who is the NDA candidate, is the sitting MLA. His bid to retain the seat is challenged by his predecessor Uday Narayan Chaudhary who had been associated with the JD(U) till a few years ago but is now in the fray as the RJD nominee. Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has fielded Shobha Sinha from Imamganj.
Tarapur: All three major political parties have fielded female candidates on the seat that comes under the Jamui Lok Sabha constituency, which is reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates.
Former Union Minister Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav's 28-year-old daughter Divya Prakash is making her debut in Tarapur constituency as the candidate of RJD. Sitting MLA Mewa Lal Choudhary of the Janata Dal(United) and Mina Devi of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) are among other candidates in the fray.
Jehanabad: Cabinet Minister Krishnanandan Prasad Verma is JD(U)'s candidate from Jehanabad. Verma, who has held key portfolios like education and social welfare, faces the additional challenge of wresting an RJD bastion for his party. He was shifted from his base Ghosi to Jehanabad.
Sasaram: Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)'s Ashok Kumar is fighting on a JD(U) ticket. He is being challenged by veteran leader Rameshwar Chaurasiya. Chaurasiya had quit the BJP to join Chirag Paswan's LJP. Rajesh Kumar Gupta is representing Tejashwi Yadav’s RJD.
Mokama: Anant Kumar Singh, controversial because of his criminal background, is RJD’s candidate from Mokama assembly seat in Patna district. He will take on Rajiv Lochan Narayan Singh of JD(U).
Ghosi: JD(U) has fielded Rahul Kumar, son of Jagdish Sharma, in Ghosi. Kumar's father who formerly represented the Ghosi assembly seat, as well as the Jehanabad Lok Sabha constituency, was disqualified upon conviction in the fodder scam.
The voting in the first phase will decide the fate of nearly half-a-dozen ministers of Nitish Kumar cabinet -- Krishnandan Varma, Prem Kumar, Jay Kumar Singh, Santosh Kumar Nirala, Vijay Sinha and Ram Narayan Mandal. The 71 constituencies going to vote on October fall in six districts, including Naxal-hit Gaya, Rohtas and Aurangabad.
Of the total 2,14,84,787 electors eligible to exercise the franchise, 1,12,76,396 are male voters, 1,01,29,101 are female electors and 599 are in third gender category, according to data provided by the Election Commission.Bihar Election 2020: Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage here