New Delhi: The Election Commission on Wednesday announced the dates for much-awaited Assembly elections for 243 seats in Bihar. The announcement was made by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi, who said that the elections will be held in five phases in state, polling for which would begin from October 12.
The second, third, fourth and fifth phases of polling will be held on October 16, October 28, November 1 and November 5 respectively.
The counting of votes will take place on November 8, he said while addressing a press conference here.
Describing the security arrangements made by the commission, the Chief Election Commissioner said, "The paramilitary forces will guard all the polling stations."
"The model code of conduct has come into force with immediate effect," the Chief Election Commissioner Zaidi added.
All political parties in the state have demanded CRPF, CISF and BSF forces for the polls. At least 47 assembly segments are affected by Left-wing extremist areas and securing these segments is priority on the agenda, the commission said.
"Our strategy will be to manage misuse of money by voters, including paid news. Nine central and state agencies have been pressed into action to keep a check on movement of cash and liquor," Zaidi said adding that a total of 6.68 crore voters are eligible to cast their votes in Bihar.
He also said that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) this time will carry the photos of the candidates also.
The term of the 243-member Bihar assembly comes to an end on November 29.
After ruling the state for ten years, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is seeking a third term this time in alliance with Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress after he walked out of NDA in June, 2013 snapping 17-year-old ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The BJP, which had almost swept the state in the Lok Sabha polls in alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party and Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, is hoping to repeat its performance and slamming Kumar for aligning with Lalu Prasad, a convict in fodder scam case.
BJP national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain today welcomed the dates announced by the Election Commission for the assembly polls in Bihar and said the party is confident about forming the next government in the state.
"The BJP welcomes the election dates announced by the Election Commission. We believe that he(Chief Election Commissioner) has announced the end of Nitish Kumar`s rule in Bihar. The announced dates are the winning dates for the BJP and its alliance. The party is completely ready for the assembly polls," Hussain told ANI here.
"For 15 years, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar have only fooled the people of Bihar. Bihar has now placed its hopes on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and we will form the next government in Bihar," he added.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is seeking a third term, was optimistic that people from all sections of the state will again vote for his government based on the work he has done in the last ten years.
Kumar said he is confident that those who are happy with his government's performance will vote for the grand alliance.
"We are working day and night and people remember this very much. I am fully confident that people of all sections will vote for us," he said.
Meanwhile, RJD president Lalu Prasad welcomed the announcement of schedule and said that the BJP-led national democratic alliance (NDA) would see a humiliating defeat like Delhi assembly polls.
"I waited for this announcement. We will defeat the BJP-led alliance in this battle. They will face a defeat like Delhi," Prasad told reporters.
Lalu further said that Bihar election was not an ordinary election. Its result would begin the countdown of Narendra Modi government.
Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC), too, welcomed the announcement of five-phase assembly polls in Bihar.
"Victory of the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance is confirmed. This secular alliance will ensure a humiliating defeat to the BJP and its allies," BPCC president Ashok Choudhary said.