The voter turnout for the Bihar Assembly elections on Wednesday was 53.46%, according to the Election Commission’s website. During the 2015 Bihar polls, 54.94% of the electorate voted in the first phase. The three-phase election in Bihar began with 71 of the state’s 243 seats voting.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday stepped up his criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. In Champaran, he said that people in the state will not be able to get jobs because their chief minister was weak.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed multiple rallies across the state. In Muzaffarpur, he said the Opposition, if voted back to power, will only bring back anarchy and “jungle raj” in Bihar.
More than two crore voters will decide the fate of 1,066 candidates across 71 Assembly segments in the first phase of elections. This is the first election to take place in the country amid the coronavirus crisis. The next two phases will be held on November 3 and November 7. The results will be announced on November 10.
Here are the day’s updates:
7.35 pm: Deputy Election Commissioner Ashish Kundra says 450 complaints of Model Code of Conduct violation were filed through the C-Vigil app, The Hindu reports.
7.31 pm: Deputy Election Commissioner in-charge of Bihar Chandra Bhushan says there were 2.14 crore electors in the first phase and a total of 85,368 postal ballots were cast, The Hindu reports. He adds that 89 cases of violation of Covid-19 norms were registered in the first phase of voting.
6.46 pm: The Election Commission’s website says voter turnout has been recorded at 53.46%.
6.45 pm: “Voter turnout of 52.24% recorded till 5 pm in the first phase of Bihar polls,” says Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, according to ANI. “In 2015, voter turnout in the first phase of Assembly elections was 54.94%, and 53.54% in Lok Sabha elections.”
6.38 pm: Poll percentage as of 5 pm.
6.09 pm: The Election Commission will hold a press conference at 6.30 pm.
5.59 pm: The voter turnout for the Assembly elections is 52.24% as of 5 pm.
4.15 pm: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath campaigns for the BJP in Bihar’s Chanpatia town, reports ANI. “If people from Bihar’s West Champaran district want to build a house in Jammu and Kashmir, no one has the audacity to stop you. Congress deprived you of this,” he says.
4.11 pm: The voter turnout for the elections is 46.29% as of 3 pm.
3.31 pm: The BJP complains to the Election Commission about Rahul Gandhi’s tweet, in which he asked for votes for the Bihar elections, ANI reports.
2.51 pm: The Congress leader calls Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar “weak”, News18 reports. “You will not get jobs in Bihar because there are none,” he says. “And it is not because the farmers and the youngsters of Bihar are not capable. It is because your CM is weak, it is because our PM is weak.”
2.50 pm: Gandhi accuses Modi of lying about jobs. “Now prime minister doesn’t say in speeches that he’ll give jobs to 2 crore youth,” Gandhi says, according to ANI. “He knows he was lying and people also know it. I guarantee, if PM comes here and says he’ll give 2 crore jobs, [the] crowd will chase him away.”
2.48 pm: The voter turnout for Bihar elections was 33% till 1 pm, The Hindu reports.
2.45 pm: Gandhi says the Congress doesn’t know how to lie like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ANI reports. “Congress gave direction to the country,” he says. “We gave MNREGA, waived off farmers’ loans. We know how to run the country, stand with farmers and generate employment, but yes, we do lack one thing, we don’t know how to lie.”
He adds: “We cannot compete with him [Modi] at lying.”
1.36 pm: Rahul Gandhi starts his address in West Champaran district, reports Hindustan Times.
1.33 pm: Modi says earlier parties only gave Bihar anarchy and misrule. “Those who gave poverty and migration to the youth of Bihar, only made their family the owner of thousands of crores, they want a chance again,” he adds.
1.31 pm: The prime minister bats for self-sufficient India. “This election will determine the future of Bihar in the coming decade, this century,” he says. “Your votes will decide what will be the role of Bihar in India with the resolution of self-sufficiency? Your votes will decide how fast we will be able to achieve the goal of self-sufficient Bihar.”
1.30 pm: Narendra Modi addresses an election rally in Muzaffarpur. “In the last six years, unprecedented work has been done to modernise the infrastructure of Bihar,” he claims. “The poorest of Bihar’s poor families are getting the basic facilities that they have waited for decades. The path of Bihar’s good governance under Nitish’s leadership has gained new energy after the formation of the NDA government at the Center.”
12.48 pm: In 31,371 polling stations in Bihar, 41,689 ballot units, 31,371 control units and 31,371 VVPATs have been deployed, says the Election Commission. As of 10 am, 0.18% ballot units, 0.26% control units and 0.53% VVPATs have been replaced.
12.37 pm: Congress leader Randeep Sigh Surjewala asks why the prime minister avoided to speak on the Munger incident. He demands Chief Minister Nitish Kumar be suspended.
12.03 am: “People of Bihar have taken a resolve to again defeat those who brought ‘jungle raj’ in the state, those who looted Bihar,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi says at a rally in Darbhanga, according to ANI. “These are the people under whose government crime was rampant in the state.”
11.55 am: Modi urges people to vote for the NDA to make Bihar atmanirbhar, or self reliant. “People in Darbhanga will get better connectivity due to airport. In atmanirbhar Bihar people will get new opportunities,” he says, according to News18.
11.53 am: Voter turnout of 18.48% recorded till 11 am, ANI reports.
11.50 am: Modi says the NDA’s motto is to do what it promises, ANI reports. “A grand Ram Temple is being built in Ayodhya... those in politics who used to ask us a date [for the temple’s construction] are now compelled to applaud... It is the identity of BJP and NDA, we do what we promise,” he says at a rally in Darbhanga.
11.40 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins an election rally in Darbhanga.
11.33 am: Voters of Lakhisarai district’s Balgudar village boycott elections. The presiding officer of booth number 115 Mohammad Ikramul Haq tells ANI: “Villagers are not voting as they’re protesting against the construction of a museum on a playground.”
11.30 am: Here are some visuals of voting from several parts of Bihar. This is the first election to take place in the country amid the coronavirus crisis. The Election Commission had issued detailed guidelines for campaigning as well as voting.
10.40 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address three rallies in Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, and Patna, according to Times Now.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, LJP’s Chirag Paswan and Plurals Party Chief Pushpam Priya Chaudhary will hold separate rallies in Siwan for the second phase of polling.
10.35 am: A voter turnout of 7.35% has been recorded till 10 am, according to the Election Commission.
10.20 am: Congress’ Bihar in charge Shaktisinh Gohil says the BJP wants to use Chirag Paswan to bring down Nitish Kumar and eventually betray him as well.
10.05 am: JD(U) leader Sanjay Jha says Chirag Paswan is Tejashwi Yadav’s B team. “To help Tejashwi, this entire game is being played,” he tells ANI. “Chirag Paswan has failed in ‘Reel’ life as well as in his real life.”
8.40 am: Yadav criticises the state government by asking as to who gave it permission to become General Dyer – the British army officer responsible for the 1919 Jalianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar. The RJD leader also questions the law and order situation in the state.
8.31 am: At the presser, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav speaks on the Munger clashes. An 18-year-old man was killed and 27 were injured in a clash during the immersion of Durga idols late on Monday night in Munger town. The injured include 20 policemen.
8.30 am: The Mahagathbandhan addresses a press briefing in Patna.
8.27 am: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asks voters to choose the “Mahagathbandhan” for the sake of justice. “This time for justice, employment, farmers-workers, your vote should be only for ‘Mahagathbandhan’ [Grand Alliance],” Gandhi tweets in Hindi. “Good wishes to all of you on the first phase of Bihar elections.”
8.23 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi urges voters to exercise caution while voting during Covid times. “Today is the first phase of voting in the Bihar Assembly elections,” he tweets. “I urge all voters to ensure their participation in this festival of democracy while taking precautions against Covid. Be mindful of maintaining ‘do gaz doori’, wear a mask. Remember, first vote, then refreshments!”
7.33 am: The Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party, meanwhile, had announced an almost 50:50 seat-sharing agreement earlier this month. Nitish Kumar, who is seeking a fourth term, is the chief ministerial candidate for the NDA. The saffron party promised free coronavirus vaccines and 19 lakh jobs. The party was heavily criticised for politicising the health crisis.
7.30 am: Tejashwi Yadav is the chief ministerial candidate of the Grand Alliance in Bihar, which comprises the Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Left. The Rashtriya Janata Dal will contest the Assembly elections from 144 seats, the Congress 70 and the Left parties – Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist) – will together contest from 29 seats. The alliance has promised to provide 10 lakh jobs and scrap the Centre’s new farm laws in its manifesto.
7.22 am: In the first phase of polling, the Imamganj seat is likely to witness a tough fight with former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi taking on former Assembly Speaker and RJD candidate Uday Narayan Choudhary. In Jamui, BJP candidate Shreyasi, who won gold in shooting in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, will contest against RJD legislator Vijay Prakash.
7.15 am: The Election Commission had issued detailed guidelines for campaigning as well as voting. This time, only 1,000 voters will be allowed in a polling booth. Thermal scanners, hand sanitiser, soap and water will be made available for the voters. Postal ballot facility has been offered to those above 80 years of age or those infected with Covid-19.
The polling hours have been extended too. This time, voting will start from 7 am and continue till 6 pm. However, the revised timings will not be applicable to areas affected by Left Wing Extremism.
7 am: The three-phase election in Bihar begins with 71 of the state’s 243 seats voting on Wednesday. More than two crore voters will decide the fate of 1,066 candidates across 71 Assembly segments in the first phase of elections.