New Delhi: After a high-pitched campaign, now it is time for the voters of Bihar to choose the victor in the Assembly elections.
A lot of things are at stake be it the Modi wave or BJP chief Amit Shah’s micromanagement skills or the future of newlyformed Grand Alliance led by foes-turned-friends Nitish-Lalu.
Bihar Election: ITG-Cicero poll predicts a tight fight
Official data says that 2.04 crore of 6.68 crore voters in Bihar are in the age group of 18-29 years. This includes 24.13 lakh first-time voters. While 27 per cent of voters are below 30 years, 57 per cent of them are below 40. This is the age-group which has witnessed the regime of Lalu Yadav during 1990s.
While caste may play its role with OBCs and EBCs comprising 45 per cent of Bihar’s electorate, the substantial chunk of youth votes has the capacity to upset traditional caste calculations, claimed a BJP leader.
So far as first phase of the polling of 49 seats is concerned, it is also a test for Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan who joined hands with the BJP in 2014 during the Lok Sabha polls. Paswan’s traditional bastion goes to polls in the first phase of polling. He not only has to ensure that his younger brother and his nephew win but also has to replicate his party’s 2014 success. In the last Lok Sabha elections, six of his seven candidates had won.
Moreover, Jitan Ram Manjhi’s quest to replace LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan as the most bankable Dalit leader is also playing out in Chakai where sitting MLA Sumit Singh, whose father Narendra Singh is a top HAM leader, is contesting as an Independent against NDA candidate Vijay Singh of the LJP.
In Bhagalpur, the buzz in political circles is that the rivalry between former MP Shahnawaz Hussain and Buxar MP Ashwini Choubey has to do something with the decision of BJP leader Vijay Shah to jump into fray as an Independent against party nominee Arjit Shashwat, Choubey’s son.
It is also believed that the NDA is not as strong in the eastern Bihar, which goes to polls on Monday, besides Seemanchal as in other regions. The BJP has traditionally not fielded candidates from a majority of 49 seats and even this time its allies LJP, RLSP and HAM are contesting 22 seats.
Though leaders of the RJD-JD (U)-Congress grand alliance claim that they have been better than their NDA rivals in candidate selection, the entry of Pappu Yadav’s party threatens to mar their prospects in many constituencies. The expelled RJD leader has tactically put up Muslim and Yadav candidates, many of them previously belonged to the RJD and JD(U).
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