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EC wants to help NDA in Bihar, opposition alleges

By Anuj Cariappa

New Delhi, Mar 12: Opposition parties in Bihar on Monday questioned the Election Commission's decision to spread Lok Sabha polls in the state over seven phases and alleged that voting has been staggered with a view to enabling extensive electioneering by the ruing NDAs main crowd-puller - Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

EC wants to help NDA in Bihar, opposition alleges

The state has only 40 Lok Sabha seats and as per the schedule announced on Sunday, only four parliamentary constituencies each will go to polls in the first couple of phases followed by five each in the next three phases. Votes will be cast in the remaining 17 in the last two phases.

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It is strange that the number of phases over which voting will be held in Bihar is the same as that of the neighboring Uttar Pradesh where the number of seats is twice as many. In West Bengal too, which has only 42 seats, polling will be held in seven phases, RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwary said here.

He said even in a state like Karnataka, where voting was held in a single phase five years ago, this time there are two phases. It appears the EC has worked out its schedule keeping in mind the convenience of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is the NDAs main crowd-puller and needs to campaign extensively in states where the BJP is not on a very strong footing. Be that as it may, this raises a question on the impartiality of the poll panel.

Echoing similar views, Congress leader Prem Chandra Mishra said in a state having 40 seats, voting could have been completed easily in four phases. Such a staggered poll schedule seems irrational. The only purpose it may serve is to enable the Prime Minister to reach out to a larger number of constituencies.

A statement to this effect was also issued by former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhis Hindustani Awam Morcha, which quit the NDA and joined the Grand Alliance spearheaded by the RJD-Congress combine last year.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections polling was held in six phases in Bihar and in five phases in West Bengal out of a total of nine phases.

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However, chief minister Nitish Kumars JD(U) an NDA ally dismissed the opposition charge.

JD(U) spokesman Sanjay Singh said there is no scope for ifs and buts once the EC has announced the polls. The opposition is jittery as it is devoid of issues. So sometimes they raise questions on the armed forces and sometimes on the Election Commission.

A tireless campaigner, Modi is known to hold the people in thrall through his oratory. He had made a record of sorts in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, which he fought as the BJPs Prime Ministerial candidate, holding rallies in more than 400 constituencies and over 5,000 public interfacing events which included Chai pe charcha programmes held through video-conferencing as also addresses to the public through the use of 3D holograms.

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