Bihar polls to be held as per schedule
Speaking to a news channel on Monday, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora confirmed that assembly elections in Bihar will go on as per the schedule and the poll body was making all preparations against COVID-19. Earlier, the EC had asked the various political parties in the state to weigh in before August 11 on whether the state should go for polls before November 29 when the tenure of the current assembly ends, failing which President’s rule would be imposed on the state.
The entire opposition has firmly been against the idea of holding elections under these conditions and have, at various points, asked for a postponement. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) said that this was not the right time for elections and questioned if Chief Minister Nitish Kumar wanted to hold an election over dead bodies. The focus should rather be on saving people’s lives during the pandemic, according to opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav.
The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has written to the Election Commission to say it was not advisable to risk the lives of lakhs of poor people, considering no one knew for how long the pandemic would last. The movement of thousands of government staff, school teacher engaged as polling officers and security personnel would on increase the risk of the virus spreading, the letter said.
Congress Rajya Sabha MP Akhilesh Prasad Singh had said all parties must be consulted before a decision is made and accused the CM of being insensitive, giving the electorate of Bihar only two choices – death or voting. While BJP leaders in the state haven’t commented on the issues, saying it was up to the EC to decide, they have had to scale back campaigning after several COVID-19 positive cases were reported in the party office. Analysts also say that President’s rule would accord the party an opportunity to cut ally Nitish Kumar down to size, in a bid to ultimately get rid of him. There are currently more than 82,000 cases in Bihar and 450 deaths, making it the eighth most affected state in the country. The recovery rate in the state stands at 65.43%.