Election Commission to announce Bihar Assembly election dates at 12.30 pm

Bihar Assembly Elections 2020 Dates, Schedule: Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, several measures are expected to be taken for campaigning and polling to ensure safety of leaders and voters.

Bihar Assembly Elections 2020: The Election Commission will hold a press conference at 12.30 pm in New Delhi on Friday to announce dates for the Bihar Legislative Assembly elections. As soon as the dates are announced, the Model Code of Conduct will be enforced in the state. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, several measures are expected to be taken for campaigning and polling to ensure safety of leaders and voters.

Bihar’s 243-member Assembly is set to expire on October 29, 2020.

Several countries have held elections amid the pandemic. However, earlier this week, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said the Bihar polls are likely to be the largest elections conducted during the pandemic given there are with 72.9 million electors in the state.

Due to the pandemic, the EC has restricted campaigning to three people for door-to-door visits, allowed only five cars (instead of 10) in a candidate’s convoy for roadshows and said only two people will accompany the candidate to file her nomination papers. Further, it has limited the number of people who can vote at one polling station to 1,000, down from 1,500. Temperature checks, masks and social distancing will be compulsory on the day of voting.

Explained: What the EC has said on voting during the Covid-19 pandemic

Ahead of the elections, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) — which leads the opposition alliance in Bihar — had said the imposition of so many “barriers” may impact “wholesome participation of voters” in the “festival of democracy”.

RJD leader and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Kumar Jha had told The Indian Express, “What if you end up having 30 per cent voting? My worry is that. We all love to call it the festival of democracy. But would we enjoy a festival if there are so many barriers, so many don’ts? There are less dos and more don’ts in this (guidelines) and that will impact the wholesome participation of voters.”

The Congress, meanwhile, had said the EC’s guidelines for campaigning and voting “fall far short” for the smooth conduct of elections in “free, non-partisan and fair fashion” without giving undue advantage to the ruling party.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is up for re-election. Sources told The Indian Express his party, Janata Dal (United) wanted to contest 115 seats while leaving 128 seats for the BJP, which should accommodate the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) from its quota. “Let the BJP accommodate LJP and we will take care of Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) from our share,” a JD(U) source said.

Along with the Bihar dates, the EC is also likely to announce the schedule for by-election to one Lok Sabha and 64 Assembly seats.

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