The bypoll, the first major political event after the general elections will show which way the wind is blowing in the state before next year's assembly polls. It will also test whether the experiment of reunion of 'mandal forces' represented by Lalu Prasad's RJD and Nitish Kumar's JD(U) in company of Congress has been a success in stopping the BJP juggernaut.
Considering the significance of the by-elections for their political survival, Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar have made several trips to the 10 constituencies. Though no big leaders from outside the state campaigned for NDA candidates, state BJP leaders with LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan and ally Rashtriya Loktantrik Samata Party of Upendra Kushwaha criss-crossed the state to drum up support.
The bypolls will be held in Hajipur, Chapra, Mohiuddinagar, Parbatta, Bhagalpur, Rajnagar(SC), Jale, Mohania(SC), Narkatiaganj and Banka. Altogether 94 candidates including 5 women are in the fray, an Election Commission statement said.
Hajipur has maximum 15 contestants while Banka and Rajnagar (SC) have a minimum of six candidates each. A total of 26,42,407 voters will exercise their franchise in 2422 booths.
Except for Maoist-hit Hajipur, Parbatta and Banka where voting will take place from 7:00 AM to 4.00 PM, in the remaining seven constituencies the duration will be 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Additional Director General of Police (Hqs) Gupteshwar Pandey said 1962 police officers along with 6000 personnel drawn from the CRPF, BMP and state police will provide security.
He said 40 per cent of the district police will be deployed for the polls. The campaign which ended yesterday witnessed acrimony between the alliance of the JD(U), RJD and Congress and the NDA combine.
Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar missed no chance to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi for 'hoodwinking' voters in the general elections. Prasad in particular spit venom against friend-turned foe LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan.
He dubbed Paswan a 'weather scientist' and 'weathercock'. The LJP chief retorted that Prasad was an 'expert on jails'.