Stakes are high for both the ruling NDA and opposition RJD-led grand alliance (GA) in the second phase of polls in 94 assembly seats for which the campaigning ended on Sunday. The polling in 94 seats, spread over 17 districts mostly in north Bihar, Patna and Kosi belt, will be held on November 3.

In total, 1,463 candidates are in the fray of which 1,316 candidates are male, 146 female and one from transgender community. The total number of voters in the second phase is 2.86 crore of which 1.50 crore are males, 1.35 crore are females and 980 from the third gender.

For the ruling NDA, comprising the BJP –JD(U) along with smaller allies like HAM(S) and VIP, the second phase is crucial as the BJP alone is fighting in 46 seats, JD(U) 43 seats and the VIP on five seats. In the opposition camp, the RJD is contesting 56 seats, Congress 24, CPI-ML (liberation) six while the CPI and the CPM are contesting four seats each.

As per reports, the BJP contesting 46 seats is in direct contest with the RJD in 27 seats and with Congress in 12 while the JD(U) contesting 43 seats is in direct contest with RJD in 25 seats and with Congress in 12 seats. In rest of the seats, there are also contests among candidates put by Left parties and also alliances like the LJP and the Grand Secular Democratic Front led by RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha.

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In the 2015 assembly polls, the Mahagatbandhan, which had the JD(U) as part of the RJD-Congress combine, had won 70 out of 94 seats going to polls in the second phase this time. The BJP-led NDA had won 20 seats while the LJP had won two seats.

Among the prominent candidates whose fate would be decided in the second phase of polls include RJD’s chief ministerial candidate Tejashwi Prasad Yadav contesting from Raghopur in Vaisali, former minister Tej Pratap Yadav contesting from Hasanpur in Samastipur, former minister Alok Kumar Mehta contesting from Ujiarpur, and several ministers in the state government.

In Patna, the major contestants in the fray in the second phase of polling include road construction minister Nand Kishore Yadav who is seeking re-election from Patna Saheb seat for the seventh time. Yadav is pitted against Praveen Kushwaha of the Congress. Altogether 13 candidates are in the fray from Patna Sahib seat.

In Kumhrar, the contest is locked between sitting BJP MLA Arun Sinha and RJD’s Dharmendra Chandrawansi while in Danapur, again the contest is between BJP sitting MLA Asha Devi and RJD’s Ritlal Yadav. In Bankipore, the contest is between BJP’s sitting MLA Nitin Navin and Congress’s Luv Sinha, son of cine star-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha.

In Darbhanga, five assembly seats that will go to polls in the second phase on November 3, a contest will be seen between parties sans any contestants in the fray directly from the BJP.

Although on two of the five seats, allotted to Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), the BJP has fielded its functionaries- Swarna Singh from Gaura Bauram and Mishrilal Yadav from Alinagar seat respectively.

In 2015 elections, JD-U’s Madan Sahni had won Gaura Bauram seat while RJD heavyweight Abdul Bari Siddiqui trounced BJP’s Mishrilal Yadav in Alinagar.

Apart from Gaura Bauram, JD-U’s candidates Shashi Bhushan Hazari from Kusheshwar Asthan (SC) and Sunil Choudhary from Benipur had defeated their rival candidates while contesting the polls in alliance with party’s erstwhile coalition partners – RJD and Congress combine.

As of now, three of the five seats, Kusheshwar Asthan, Gaura Bauram and Benipur are, thus, represented by JD-U MLAs whereas, Darbhanga (rural) and Alinagar constituencies are represented by RJD MLAs – Lalit Kumar Yadav and Abdul Bari Siddiqui respectively.

Curiously enough the latter, however, has been shifted by RJD from his home turf in Alinagar to Keoti seat in the ensuing polls. Siddiqui was replaced by a Brahmin candidate. Vinod Mishra is RJD’s new choice from Alinagar seat.

Meanwhile, the JD(U) has shifted sitting MLA Madan Sahni from Gaura Bauram to Bahadurpur. The VIP has, on the other hand, fielded Swarna Singh in Gaura Bauram against RJD’s Afzal Ali Khan. Swarna Singh is the daughter-in-law of BJP MLC Sunil Singh who passed away a couple of months ago following Covid-19 infection.

In Benipur, the constituency was wrested by JD-U’s Sunil Chaudhary in 2015 polls. This time, the party has fielded Binay Kumar Chaudhary against Congress candidate Mithilesh Choudhary. Likewise, JD-U nominee Shashi Bhushan Hazari is pitted against Congress party’s Ashok Kumar, who had won last polls from Singhia constituency in Samastipur.

Facts at a glance

Total number of electors: 28611164

Number of male voters: 15033034

Number of female voters: 13516271

Third gender: 980

Service electors: 60,879

Total number of candidates: 1,463

Male candidates: 1,316

Female candidates: 146

Third gender: 1

Party wise break–up of candidates : BJP- 46, JD(U)- 43, RJD- 56, Congress- 24, LJP-52, RLSP-36, CPI-4, CPM-4

Number of polling stations: 41,362.

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