The elections for the 243 Assembly seats of Bihar will take place in three phases between October 28 and November 7. The counting of votes will be on November 10, the Election Commission said on Friday.
While addressing the press, Chief Election Commission Sunil Arora said that the Bihar Assembly term expires on November 29. "We are all aware that the term of Assembly in Bihar is expiring on November 29. Bihar Assembly holds a strength of 243 members of which 38 seats are reserved for SCs and two for STs," said Arora.
Arora said that polling time has been increased by 1 hour. "To further decongest polling stations & allow more free movement of voters, polling time has been increased by 1 hour. It'll be held from 7 am-6 pm, instead of 7 am-5 pm earlier. However, this will not be applicable to Left-wing affected areas," he said.
Apart from postal facility, those with Covid-19 who are quarantined can vote in the last hour of voting. "COVID-19 patients who're quarantined will be able to cast their vote on the last day of poll, at their respective polling stations, under the supervision of health authorities. This is beside the option of postal facility already extended to them," said Arora.
Addressing a press conference here, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said, "The Bihar elections will be held in three phases. Elections for the first phase will take place on October 28 on 71 Assembly constituencies, elections for second phase on 94 seats will take place on November 3, and the third phase poll on 78 Assembly seats will be on November 7." He said that the counting of votes will take place on November 10.
He also said that world has changed significantly due COVID-19 and it has forced a new normal. "The world has changed significantly, and certainly not for the better. The uncertainty and devastation caused by Covid-19 has changed the way we live and work. It has forced a new normal," said Arora.
He further added that as many as 70 countries have postponed elections. "As the pandemic spread across the world, all election officials first thought it was needed to postpone elections and hold them in a more condusive environment. More than 70 countries postponed their elections. However, as days passed, many countries took the courageous decisions to go ahead with their election schedules with safety norms."
Due to Covid protocols, only journalists accredited with the PIB would be allowed to attend the presser. Bihar has 243 Assembly seats. In 2015, the alliance of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal-United and the Congress had swept the polls but JD-U has since aligned with the BJP.
The EC has already issued the guidelines to all political parties to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. The candidates will file nomination papers and deposit security money online. Facial masks, hand sanitisers, social distancing norms would be mandatory during political campaigning or at rallies.
Earlier, the EC had asked political parties for their opinions on the conduct of Assembly elections. The RJD, LJP and some others had suggested postponement of the electoral battle until the coronavirus pandemic was over. However, the ruling JD-U, BJP and others wanted the elections to be completed before the Assembly's term ended.