The Election Commission announces that by-polls for the 64 assemblies and one parliamentary seats in different states will be held around the same time with the Bihar Assembly polls, dates for which will be announced later. There is a vacancy of 27 seats in Madhya Pradesh assembly also, which means by-elections in the state will also take place around the same time with the Bihar Assembly polls.
The poll panel in a statement said that a meeting was held on Friday regarding holding of by-elections in different states. The Commission said there were 65 clear vacancies because of by-elections in Assembly or Parliamentary constituencies, out of which there are 64 vacancies in state assemblies and one in a Parliamentary constituency.
The Commission said it discussed the reports and inputs from Chief Secretaries or Chief Electoral officers of many of the concerned states seeking deferral of the by-elections in their states in view of several factors including the extra-ordinary heavy rains in some places and other constraints such as the pandemic etc. “Considering the General assembly elections in Bihar are also due and required to be completed before November 29, the Commission has decided to conduct all the 65 by-elections and General Assembly Election of Bihar around the same time,” the Commission said.
It further said that one of the major factors for clubbing them together was the relative ease of movement of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), other law and order forces and related logistical issues. “Announcement of the schedule of Bihar General Assembly election, as well as these by-elections, will be done by the Commission at an appropriate time,” it added.
The Assembly elections for 243 Bihar Assembly seats are due this year. The NDA consisting of ruling Janata Dal-United, BJP, HAM-S and the LJP is pitted against the Grand Alliance comprising the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress, RLSP and others.
Meanwhile, the inclusion of the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) led by Jitan Ram Manjhi in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has invited the displeasure of alliance partner Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) it appears.
Chirag Paswan, the son and political successor of veteran Dalit leader Ram Vilas Paswan, is reportedly angry with the ruling Janata Dal-United (JDU) for giving space to the HAM in the alliance.
Manjhi is also a prominent Dalit leader and his inclusion in the NDA may affect seat-sharing and the backward vote in Bihar. Such a situation is of concern to the LJP.
The LJP has now given a slogan emphasising Bihari pride. The slogan reads: “Woh lad rahen hain raj karne ke liye, LJP lad rahi hai Bihar par naz karne ke liye” (They are contesting elections to rule the state and the LJP is contesting elections for the pride of Bihar).
Paswan has also been critical of CM Nitish Kumar for his policies on the return of migrant labourers from other states, inadequate flood relief measures and failing to control the spread of Covid-19 in the state.
However, LJP spokesperson Asraf Ansari said that the slogan is meant to target opposition parties such as the RJD, Congress and others. But political observers in the state say the slogan is targeted at Manjhi for joining the NDA just before the polls.
Prem Kumar, a prominent BJP leader and the agriculture minister of Bihar, said: “There is no such conflict among the LJP and the HAM. Now, four parties will fight together under the common NDA umbrella led by CM Nitish Kumar. The inclusion of Manjhi in the NDA will help us rather than cause division of votes in the Dalit community.”
Danish Rizwan, the official spokesperson of HAM, said: “Chirag Paswan taking a tough stand is his personal matter and the HAM has nothing to do with it. He has given some unwanted statements against CM Nitish Kumar, who has changed the impression of Bihar over the last 15 years. Now, people talk about Bihari pride and people in other states give respect to Biharis. Chirag’s statement of ‘Bihar first, Bihari first’, has come only in these elections.”
“If Chirag will continue with the stand, his party and he will face consequences in this election,” Rizwan added.
“The statements of any individual leader are not important for the JD(U). We are contesting under one umbrella of the NDA and guidance from Amit Shah are important to us. We are also following the directions of the Election Commission,” Said Neeraj Kumar, a senior JDU legislator and Bihar’s information and public relations minister. (IANS)