In the first phase of the Bihar Assembly elections, in which 71 seats will witness polling on Wednesday, the NDA and Grand Alliance look evenly placed. While the BJP is hoping to make gains, its alliance partner JD(U) may suffer some losses, with the LJP directly contesting against it in at least 10 seats. The LJP strongholds include Dinara, Suryagarha and Amarpur.
In the 71 seats, while the RJD has nominated its sitting legislators in 25 seats, the JD(U) and BJP have put up their sitting MLAs in 23 and 13 seats respectively. Eight sitting legislators of the Congress and one each of the Hindustani Awam Morcha (S) and CPI (ML) are also in the fray. However, seat positions are likely to change in this election from 2015, as the JD(U) is now a part of the NDA. In 2015, the JD(U) contested the state polls as part of the Mahagathbandhan.
In the first phase, while the RJD is contesting on 42 seats, its alliance partners, the Congress and CPI(ML), are contesting on 21 and eight seats respectively. The JD(U) and BJP are contesting 35 and 29 seats respectively and their alliance partners, HAM (S) and VIP, are contesting six seats and one seat respectively.
It is the Imamganj seat in Gaya that will witness a high stakes battle, with former CM and HAM(S) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi engaged in a tough contest with former Assembly speaker and RJD candidate Uday Narayan Choudhary.
Dinara is another interesting seat, where BJP rebel and LJP candidate Rajendra Singh is up against sitting JD(U) MLA Jay Kumar Singh and RJD’s Vijay Mandal. In Jamui, former Union minister Digvijay Singh’s daughter and BJP candidate Shreyasi, who won gold in shooting in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, will face sitting RJD legislator Vijay Prakash. While four-time MLA and RJD candidate Anant Kumar Singh enjoys a clear edge in Mokama over his rivals, Paliganj is likely to witness a keen contest between sitting MLA and JD(U) candidate Jayvardhan Yadav and CPI(ML)’s Sandeep Saurav.
While Grand Alliance nominees enjoy a clear edge in Rohtas and Kaimur, the contest in Arrah, Shekhpura, Munger, Gaya and Bhagalpur will be keenly watched. The LJP’s decision to go alone has kept the NDA on edge. The first phase will also show if RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav’s promise to create jobs would convert into extra votes.
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