Bihar Elections minus the cow: Fifth phase of voting begins as EC censors political ads

Patna: The stage is set for the fifth and final round of voting for 57 seats across nine districts in the Bihar Assembly poll on Thursday. In a five phase election for 243 seats, there’s been more than a fair share of mudslinging, sting videos, name calling and a generous dose of quota talk. The EC has stepped in more than once to tell all parties in the mudfight to clean up their hate talk.

 Bihar Elections minus the cow: Fifth phase of voting begins as EC censors political ads

Final knockout in Bihar/ PTI

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took a last swipe at his pet opponent Modi asking voters to choose between a Bihari ( Nitish) and a Bahari (Modi/ BJP).

“A Bihari is standing before you, just say goodbye to the Bahari. I am not an ahankaari (arrogant) but a Bihari. I know how to protect my self-respect. I received the Prime Minister during his Bihar visit but at Muzaffarpur he said there was something wrong with my DNA,” he said in his last campaign stop at Darbhanga.

Modi, for his part has given the Bihar rallies his all while voices against ‘intolerance’ have grown louder alongside.

The 57 constituencies in the final round include 24 in the Seemanchal region bordering West Bengal and spread over nine districts of Madhubani, Darbhanga, Supual, Madhepura, Saharsa, Araria, Kisanganj, Purnea and Katihar.

As the curtains come down this ferociously contested election, the Election Commission cracked down on political party ads in an unprecedented way on Wednesday.

For the first time in the history of the poll panel, the EC is censoring political ads. The EC has directed political parties not to publish ads in newspapers without its approval in Bihar.

Any ad that has not been submitted to the Election Commission for clearance cannot be published on the final day of polling.

Votes will be counted Sunday.

The Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance complained to the Election Commission a BJP ad featuring a woman hugging a cow and the headline claiming that Nitish Kumar does not respect the (holy) cow.

Resorting to its extraordinary powers under Article 324 of the Constitution for the second time during this Bihar election, The EC imposed an unprecedented restriction on political advertisements in newspapers.

This prohibits all political parties, candidates, organisations and individuals from publishing political advertisements in newspapers on November 5, unless approved by the state election commission.

A total of 1,55,43,594 electors are eligible to vote to decide the fate of 827 candidates, including 58 women.

Prominent among those whose fate will be decided in the last phase include senior minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav of JD(U) (Supual), RJD Legislature party leader Siddiqui (Alinagar), Minister Narendra Narayan Yadav (Alamnagar) and Lalu Prasad's 'Man Friday" Bhola Yadav (Bahadurpur).

Except for two seats in Simri Bhaktiyarpur, polling will take place on the remaining 55 constituencies at scheduled 7 AM to 5 PM, Additional Chief Electoral Officer R Lakshmanan said.

In the two Naxal-hit constituencies - Simri Bhakhtiyarpur and Mahisi in Saharsa district, the poll time has been cut short by two hours and would end at 3 PM.

Like in the previous four phases there is a bitter fight between the NDA and the grand secular alliance of JD(U), RJD and Congress in all 57 seats in the fifth round.

This round would also be watched keenly to see if All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) of Hyderabad MP Asauddin Owaisi manages to successfully launch itself in Bihar. AIMIM has fielded six candidates in Seemanchal areas where Muslim voters are present in large number to test poll waters in Bihar.

Besides, AIMIM, impact of third front particularly Jan Adhikar Party of Madhepura MP Pappu Yadav would also be keenly watched in the Kosi belt.

The Nationalist Congress Party and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha have also fielded candidates in many constituencies in this phase.

In 2010, the BJP had bagged 23 out of the 57 seats where election will take place tomorrow. The JD(U), which was with the BJP in the last poll, had bagged 20 seats, the RJD of Lalu Prasad 8, Congress 3, LJP 2 and Independent 1.

The BJP has fielded a maximum of 38 candidates, while LJP nominees are contesting in 11. The Rashtriya Lok Samata Party of Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha has put up candidates in five constituencies and Hindustani Awam Morcha of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi in three.

JD(U) candidates are trying their luck in 25 seats, RJD in 20 and Congress 12.

PTI

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Updated Date: Nov 05, 2015 07:19:38 IST