Patna: The much crucial third phase of the Bihar Assembly Elections will take place on Saturday (November 7) and stakes are high for both JDU-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and RJD-led Mahagathbandhan. Chief Mister Nitish Kumar is trying his best to to avert the anti-incumbency factor against the Grand Alliance led by an apparently resurgent RJD.As per the Elections Commission of India, as many as 2.34 crore voters, spread across 78 assembly segments of the 243-strong Assembly, will decide the fates of 1,204 candidates, including the Speaker and 12 members of the state cabinet.Bihar Assembly Elections Phase 3 Polling: Key battles
Besides, polling will also take place for Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat where a by-election has been necessitated by the death of sitting JD(U) MP Baidyanath Mahato.
The JD(U)'s bid to retain the Parliamentry seat by fielding his son Sunil Kumar is facing the primary challenge from Congress candidate Pravesh Kumar Mishra, a journalist- turned-politician.
Just like the Valmiki Nagar seat, all the 78 poll-bound assembly segments spread across 19 districts fall in north Bihar, as areas falling north of the Ganges in the state are called in common parlance.
Many of these fall in the Kosi-Seemanchal region where the contest between NDA and Grand Alliance will be held under the shadow of Owaisi factor given the fact that the AIMIM has fielded candidates in many of the Muslim-dominated seats in the region and the Hyderabad MP also carried out a hectic campaign.
The Kosi-Seemanchal region also happens to be the main area of influence for maverick former MP Pappu Yadav, whose Jan Adhikar Party is determined to make its presence felt and prove a point to the RJD as both draw their support from the states most populous community the Yadavs.Bihar Assembly Elections Phase 3 Polling: NDA-LJP crackdown
As in the previous two phases, Chirag Paswan's LJP is also in the fray in a number of seats in the last phase, threatening to play a spoilsport for the NDA, especially the JD(U) with its repeated pleas that "every vote cast in favour of the Chief Ministers party will be a loss for Bihar's future".
While the NDA looked surefooted till a few months ago, poll pundits have begun to predict 'winds of change' and the ruling coalition seems to have taken note as emotional appeals to the voters have emanated from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and CM Nitish Kumar.
PM Modi, who attended 12 rallies during the campaign, came out with an open letter addressed to the people of the state Thursday saying he 'needed' Nitish Kumar in the state so that the development of Bihar continued uninterrupted.Bihar Assembly Elections Phase 3 Polling: Nitish Kumar's last political innings
Days ahead of third phase polling, CM Nitish Kumar on his part, stunned all by winding up his last election meeting in Purnea district with the remark "this is my last election. And all is well that ends well".The Chief Minister, who seems to be bearing the brunt of the perceived anti-incumbency with the public anger seemingly directed not as much against the BJP, his alliance partner, caught the rank and file of his JD(U) unawares.Kumar's old associate and state unit president Vashishtha Narayan Singh has insisted that the Chief Minister was himself not in the fray, having been a member of the legislative council ever since he occupied the top post in the state, and he must have meant to say it was the "last rally he was addressing for the current elections".Bihar Elections Phase 3 Polling: Mahagathbandhan on the rollThe RJD, once considered invincible, has left no stones unturned to make a comeback, enthused by the response its Chief Ministerial candidate Tejashwi Yadav.The party has forged a rainbow coalition that comprises its old ally, the Congress, besides the Left parties though none of these have remained a force to reckon with in the state since the rise of 'Mandal' and 'Mandir'.Bihar Elections Phase 3 Polling: Key candidatesJD(U) ministers in the fray are Bijendra Prasad Yadav (Supaul), Narendra Narayan Yadav (Alamnagar), Maheshwar Hazari (Kalyanpur), Ramesh Rishideo (Singheshwar), Khurshid alias Firoz Ahmed (Sikta), Lakshmeshwar Roy (Laukaha), Bima Bharti (Rupauli) and Madan Sahni (Bahadurpur).Four ministers are in the fray from the BJP Pramod Kumar (Motihari), Suresh Sharma (Muzaffarpur), Binod Narayan Jha (Benipatti) and Krishnakumar Rishi (Banmankhi).Besides, wife and daughter-in-law respectively of recently deceased ministers Vinod Kumar Singh (BJP) and Kapil Deo Kamat (JDU) respectively are in the fray from the late legislatorss respective seats Pranpur and Babubarhi.Another keenly watched candidate is Subhashini Yadav from Bihariganj whose father, veteran socialist leader and former Union minister Sharad Yadav, had been a multiple-term MP from Madhepura under which the assembly segment falls. She is contesting on a Congress ticket.Bihar Elections Phase 3 Polling: ABP News Exit PollAs the last leg of the voting in the current Bihar polls where elections are being conducted amid raging Coronavirus pandemic tomorrow, ABP News along with C-Voter will telecast the final Exit Polls.