Campaign ends for third phase of polls in Bihar

Patna: Campaigning concluded on Sunday for 5 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar going to polls in the third phase on Tuesday. The constituencies going to vote in this phase are Madhepura, Supaul, Jhanjharpur, Khagaria and Araria in the flood-prone Seemanchal.

Para-military forces have been deployed at all polling booths and drones will be used, for the first time, for surveillance, officials said.

Madhepura, where four-time MP Sharad Yadav is contesting as a Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) candidate against JD-U’s Dinesh Chandra Yadav and independent Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, is among the most keenly watched battles in this phase.

While Dinesh Chandra Yadav, a minister in the state, is the NDA candidate, former RJD MP Rajesh Ranjan was denied ticket this time by the Lalu Prasad’s party.

Sharad Yadav is facing a survival battle with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar camping in the area and personally monitoring the campaign against his friend-turned-foe, who revolted against him in 2017 after the former dumped the pre-poll RJD-Congress alliance to join hands with the BJP and form a government. An election defeat may send Sharad Yadav into political oblivion.

Over 88 lakh voters will decide the fate of 82 candidates in this phase.

According to political activists, in many places, caste equations will influence the voters’ choice more than any other issue. While the NDA is banking on the upper castes, EBCs, OBCs and Dalits; the Grand Alliance’s hopes lie with OBCs, EBCs, Muslims and Dalits.

Maoist-affected constituencies of Gaya, Nawada, Jamui and Aurangabad went to polls in the first phase on April 11. Kishanganj, Purnea, Katihar, Bhagalpur and Banka constituencies polled in the second phase on April 18.