On 19 April, 11,85,07,86 electors across seven constituencies around Bihar will line up to cast their ballots. The fate of actor-turned-politicians like Shatrughan Sinha and first time contestants from political families like Lalu Yadav's daughter Misa Bharti will be decided that day. One hundred and fifteen other candidates are in fray too.
Apart from Sinha, voting in Patna and nearby districts would decide the fate of former Home Secretary RK Singh, and Bharti's uncles Ramkripal Yadav and Ranjan Yadav. Electors would exercise their franchise in 11,846 polling stations in Patna Sahib, Nalanda, Patliputra, Jehanabad, Munger, Ara and Buxar Parliamentary constituencies.
Polls are being held in areas which have a history of Maoist violence particularly some areas in Jehanabad, Munger, Lakhisarai and Patliputra. A total of 42,600 security personnel would be deployed to ensure polls go off smoothly.
Contesting from Patna Sahib, Sinha is seeking re-election on a BJP ticket and mainly campaigned for himself. He conducted a large number of rallies and road shows. Sinha will face former Bhojpuri actor Kunal Singh who is contesting on a Congress ticket. In 2009 too, Patna Sahib saw a star-studded battle -- Sinha defeated Congress' Shekhar Suman by a landslide of 1.6 lakh votes.
However, this time Sinha is in for a tough battle. Kunal Singh's biggest advantage is the anti-incumbency wave against Sinha who, as is widely believed, neglected his constituency. Singh, from the Yadav caste and the son of an MLA from the Bakhtiarpur (one of Patna Sahib's assembly constituencies) has both these factors playing to his advantage.
In Patliputra, Misa Bharti will attempt to do what Lalu didn't manage in the 2009 polls when he lost to JD(U)'s Ranjan Prasad Yadav. Bharti is up against ex-RJD veteran and now BJP candidate Ram Kripal Yadav. Ram Kripal, once a close aide of Lalu's quit the RJD recently after the RJD supremo denied him a ticket to contest from Patliputra in favour of Bharti. The three way contest between Bharti, Ram Kirpal and and sitting MP Ranjan Prasad.
Nalanda's AAP candidate Pranav Prakash was in the limelight recently after he was brutally attacked by goons carrying iron rods while campaigning in Udarfu.
JD(U)'s Jehanabad bid also shot into the limelight recently-- for being the richest candidate in the state. Real estate baron Anil Kumar Sharma declared assets worth Rs 850 crore. A first-timer, Sharma is all set to face Arun Kumar of Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) and Surendra Yadav of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)
In Ara Lok Sabha constituency, from where former external affairs minister and Lok Sabha Speaker Baliram Bhagat and former Congress minister Ramlakhan Singh Yadav were elected, still faces problems with the basics like electricity, roads and water availability'.
Times of India reports: "Even the contribution of incumbent JD (U) MP Meena Singh, who has been placed third in the country in investing MPLAD fund, is not enough." Meena Singh will face former minister in the Nitish Kumar government Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha, who recently joined RJD.
Former health minister in Nitish Kumar's cabinet Ashwini Kumar Choubey, is contesting from Buxar on a BJP ticket where he will face RJD's Jagnanad Singh. Buxar's geographical location also makes the contest important. Referring to Varanasi and Buxar, the Telegraph reported "Both have several things in common, like popular traditions, lifestyle and voting behaviour."
Development and issues pertaining to the basics like infrastructure is likely to be one of the major issues in the polls on 17 April. In Buxar, for example, still faces two major problems: sudden unemployment after a textile mill closed and the presence of arsenic in drinking water, TOI reports.
According to the Lokniti-CNN-IBN National Election Tracker polls conducted in January and February 2014, around 76 percent among upper caste respondents preferred the BJP when comapred JDU's 11 percent.
Lalu Yadav's RJD got a mere 3 percent. While the Congress got about 9 percent of the support from this caste, it still signifies the troubles that face the Congress-RJD alliance.
IBNLive explains why the caste consideration matters in Bihar: "Here the BJP enjoys an advantage as its upper caste voters are not only solidly behind the party but due to their better social and educational standards can be very influential in deciding who the ECB voters back. Al least a section of the Yadavs is favourably inclined towards it and the party has made no bones of the fact that it will use Narendra Modi's backward caste origin to target the JDU vote bank."
Updated Date: Apr 16, 2014 19:53:41 IST