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Three-phase Bihar elections first test for coronavirus response


PATNA/NEW DELHI: Regional political equations and caste arithmetic will play a decisive role in the Bihar Assembly polls that will be held in three phases — October 28, November 3 and November 7. 
Seventy-one of the 243 Assembly seats will go to the polls in the first phase, 94 in the second and 73 in the third phase. The results will be announced on November 10, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said on Friday.

Confident of successfully pulling it off, the CEC cited the NEET and JEE exams that were held during the pandemic to say life must go on. Over seven lakh hand sanitiser units, about 46 lakh masks, six lakh PPE kits, 6.7 lakh units of face shields and 23 lakh pairs of hand gloves have been arranged for the polls, he informed.

Bihar will be the first electoral test for the Centre’s handling of the COVID-19 and the migrant crisis, the farm reform bills and the controversial CAA-NRC issue. Unemployment, too, is a major issue because many migrants who returned home could not find suitable jobs in their respective areas.

Over 30 lakh migrants returned to Bihar amid the pandemic and the issue will remain alive till the polls. Besides, over 84 lakh people were affected by the floods this year, compounding the problems of migrants.

Whether or not RJD’s Tejashawi Yadav and the Congress along with some smaller parties can put up a united front to exploit the anti-incumbency remains to be seen. As for the NDA, it is still flogging the 15-year ‘jungle raj’ of Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi.

The BJP is already working on seat-sharing within the NDA and its main challenge is to accommodate all players, including JD(U), LJP and the HAM. The absence of senior faces like Lalu Yadav and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh will give the the NDA some advantage.