India

Bihar Election Dates To Be Announced At 12:30 PM

Bihar Election Dates To Be Announced At 12:30 PM

Bihar Election: State elections in Bihar will be the first in India since the beginning of the pandemic.

New Delhi:

The Bihar election dates will be announced shortly by the Election Commission. This is the first major state election to be held in the middle of the worldwide coronavirus crisis.

Bihar has to elect a new 243-member assembly by November 29. The polls are likely to be held in the last week of October and in fewer phases this time, according to sources.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who leads a coalition with the BJP, will fight for a fourth term in these polls, with the opposition RJD of jailed former chief minister Lalu Yadav and the Congress challenging him.

The ruling National Democratic Alliance includes Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United, the BJP, Chirag Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha, which recently switched from the opposition alliance.

The ruling coalition's seat-sharing talks are likely to be hamstrung by tense internal dynamics; Chirag Paswan has been targeting Nitish Kumar openly and has been sending out mixed signals. He is also rattled by the entry of Jitan Ram Manjhi, who has a similar vote base and expects a bigger share in the contest than he is likely to get.

The opposition, led by Lalu Yadav's son Tejashwi Yadav, is likely to target the ruling coalition over its handling of the coronavirus crisis and the fallout on migrants, besides the floods in the state. The centre's controversial farm bills that were passed in parliament despite opposition protests has also armed Tejashwi Yadav with an issue to target what he calls an "anti-farmer" government. This morning, he launched his campaign on a tractor to drive home the point.

Tejashwi Yadav, leading the RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) since his father was jailed, has pulled no punches in his attacks on Nitish Kumar, his former boss.

Nitish Kumar contested the 2015 polls with the RJD and Congress after ending ties with the BJP over its 2013 decision to make Narendra Modi its prime ministerial candidate. But within two years of the Mahagatbandhan, which had brought rivals Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav together after 25 years, their ties soured over corruption allegations against the Yadav family, especially Tejashwi Yadav, who was Nitish Kumar's number 2 as Deputy Chief Minister.

Nitish Kumar resigned, dumped Lalu Yadav and the Congress, and reembraced the BJP.

In the past three years, Nitish Kumar's alliance with the BJP has not been without problems but both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, the two top leaders of the ruling party, have made it clear that he will lead the NDA in these polls.

In the past few elections, Nitish Kumar has been a dominating factor, no matter who is partner is.