New Delhi: The Bihar assembly elections will begin on October 28, the Election Commission announced on Friday.
The Bihar elections will be held in three phases. Phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3 of the elections will be conducted on October 28, November 3 and November 7 respectively, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora informed.
The counting of votes will happen on November 10. While 71 constituencies will vote in Phase 1 of the election, 94 and 78 constituencies will respectively vote in phase 2 and 3 of the elections.
The term of the 243-member Bihar legislative assembly comes to an end on November 29.
The Bihar elections is expected to be the largest voting excercise held in the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
More polling booths will be created to ensure social distancing norms. Only 1000 voters will be allowed in a booth as against 1500 voters, Sunil Arora said. The polling time has also been increased by one hour.
Voting will begin as usual at 7 am but the period will be extended by one hour until 6 pm, except in the Left Wing Extremism-affected areas, so that COVID-19 patients can vote in the last hour of the day.
Besides the model code of conduct, a health protocol is to be followed during the election time.
Forty-six lakh masks, 6 lakh PPE kits, 23 lakh gloves and 7 lakh hand sanitizers will be used for the polls, the CEC added.
He also added that special provision will be arranged for COVID-19 positive patients.
Besides, postal ballot facility will be provided wherever required and requested.Social distancing norms will need to be followed at public gatherings during the poll campaign.
Arora further said anyone using social media for mischievous purposes, such as for flaring communal tension, during elections will have to face consequences, while hate speech will be also dealt with harshly by the Election Commission.
On bypolls for one Lok Sabha seat and 64 assembly constituencies, Arora said the Election Commission will take a decision after a meeting on September 29 where issues raised by some states on timing of polls would be discussed and a press release should be issued subsequently the same evening.
The notification for the first phase of Bihar assembly elections would be issued on October 1, while last date of nominations would be October 8 and withdrawal of candidature can be done till October 12.
For the second phase, notification would be issued on October 9, nominations can be filed till October 16 and candidature can be withdrawn till October 19.
The third-phase notification would be issued on October 13, the last date of nominations would be October 20 and the last date for candidature withdrawal has been fixed October 23.
The number of people accompanying a candidate for submission of nomination has been restricted to two, while door-to-door campaign can have maximum five people including the candidate.
Arora further said there are about 18.87 lakh migrants across 38 districts of Bihar, out of which 16.6 lakh are eligible to vote. While 13.93 lakh already had their names on the electoral rolls, 2.3 lakh more have been registered and the the process is still on, he added. PTI NAB BJ BJ 09251410
SC refuses plea to defer elections
The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea seeking to postpone the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A three-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and M R Shah also refused to grant liberty to the petitioner to give representation to the Election Commission in this regard.
"We can't permit everybody to go to the Election Commission. We can only permit you to withdraw the petition," the bench said.
The matter was then dismissed as withdrawn.
The EC is set to announce the schedule for Bihar assembly elections on Friday.
The top court was hearing the plea filed by one Ajay Kumar who contended that the general assembly elections cannot be held smoothly due to the pandemic.
The plea sought to hold the Bihar Assembly elections till the situation becomes normal.