Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday appealed to the people of Bihar to participate in the "holy festival of democracy" in greater numbers and set a new voting record.
"Today is the third and last phase of voting in Bihar assembly elections. I request all voters to participate in this holy festival of democracy in greater numbers and set a new voting record. And of course, be sure to wear masks and social distancing as well," Modi tweeted.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah urged the youth to come out and vote to encourage development and good governance in Bihar.
"I appeal to all the voters of the third and last phase in Bihar to vote in maximum numbers. Especially I appeal to the youth to vote vigorously to encourage development and good governance in Bihar and motivate others to do the same," Shah tweeted.
Polling began on 78 assembly constituencies across 16 districts in the third and final phase of Bihar elections at 7 am on Saturday.
About 2.35 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise and the Election Commission has made adequate arrangements and taken precautionary measures against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The electoral fate of 1,204 candidates will be decided in the elections.
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has fielded the maximum number of 46 candidates, followed by the Chirag Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) at 42, Janata Dal (United) at 37, Bharatiya Janata Party at 35, and Congress at 25.
Apart from NDA, Mahagathbandhan and a third front comprising Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), BSP, AIMIM, and some other parties are contesting the election. There are also new entrants and smaller parties in the fray.
The prominent candidates include Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) president Mukesh Sahni, Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary, and former Union Minister Sharad Yadav's daughter Subhashini.
Eight ministers from JD-U are in the fray, namely Bijendra Prasad Yadav from Supaul, Madan Sahni from Bahadurpur, Maheshwar Hazari from Kalyanpur, Narendra Narayan Yadav from Alamnagar, Ramesh Rishideo from Singheshwar, Khurshid alias Firoz Ahmed from Sikta, Bima Bharti from Rupauli and Lakshmeshwar Roy from Laukaha.
Four ministers from the BJP -- Pramod Kumar from Motihari, Suresh Sharma from Muzaffarpur, Binod Narayan Jha from Benipatti, and Krishnakumar Rishi from Banmankhi -- are also to contest.
The Election Commission has already mandated face masks, hand sanitisers, thermal scanners, gloves, face shields, and PPE kits during the electoral process while ensuring social distancing norms.
It also laid down guidelines for each polling station, including sanitisation a day before the poll, markers for social distancing, putting up of COVID-19 awareness posters, and availability of hand gloves.
Polling was held for 71 and 94 constituencies in the first and second phases on October 28 and November 3 respectively.
The counting of votes will take place on November 10.
Bihar recorded a voter turnout of 55.69 per cent in the first phase and 53.51 per cent in the second phase of polls for 243 member assembly.
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