Voting for the third and final phase of assembly elections in Bihar began eary on Saturday with about 2.34 crore voters, spread across 78 assembly segments of the 243-strong Assembly, set to decide the fates of 1204 candidates.
The Speaker and 12 members of the state cabinet are in fray in the last phase.
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 here and the Hyderabad MP also carried out a hectic campaign.
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 Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Prominent candidates include Vijay Kumar Chaudhary of JD (U),Speaker of the outgoing assembly, famed for his ability to win over hostile opponents with a disarming smile, who seeks to do a hat-trick in Sarairanjan.
JD(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.
Saturday will be the last leg of the voting in the current Bihar polls where elections are being conducted amid raging COVID pandemic.
Counting of votes is scheduled on November 10.
"Today, the last phase of voting is taking place in Bihar. I urge all voters to ensure their participation in this festival of democracy by voting as much as possible for the progress of Bihar whil keeping in mind COVID precautions."
PM Modi tweets
"I request all voters to participate in this festival of democracy in large numbers and set a new voting record. However, it is necessary to wear masks and maintain social distancing"
Tejashwi Yadav tweets
"Ganges, Gandak and Kosi of change are flowing in Bihar. Change is on the rise. Make sure to use your vote today for the golden future, all-round development, developed Bihar, to establish peace, peace and change in the system to create a new era in Bihar. Cast your vote & Be a companion of change."
'Bihar first, Bihari first'
The way people are connecting with 'Bihar first, Bihari first', I believe our performance will be good in this phase too. One thing is very clear Nitish Kumar Ji will never become the CM: Chirag Paswan, LJP chief
7.69% voter turnout recorded till 9 am
7.69% voter turnout recorded till 9 am in the third phase of Bihar Elections