Voting in five seats in Bihar is taking place in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha election on May 6. The stake is high for the NDA to win all the five seats — Hajipur, Saran, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, and Madhubani.
In the 2014 polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won three of five seats — Saran, Muzaffarpur, and Madhubani. While its allies, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RSLP) won the Hajipur and Sitamarhi seats, respectively.
The RLSP has now jumped ship and joined hands with the Opposition Alliance which is mostly playing the caste card to consolidate its social support base to regain lost ground.
Sitamarhi will see a fight between the NDA candidate Sunil Kumar Pintu and the RJD’s Arjun Rai.
Pintu, a four time BJP MLA from Sitamarhi, was hastily asked to join the JD(U) to fill-in and contest the Sitamarhi Lok Sabha seat in place of Dr Varun Kumar from the JD(U) when the latter returned the poll ticket alleging non-cooperation by local leaders of the alliance.
In the Saran seat, RJD’s Chandrika Rai, also the father-in-law of party chief Lalu Prasad’s elder son Tej Pratap, is contesting against sitting BJP MP and former union minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
Rabri Devi, the wife of Lalu Prasad who is presently in jail in connection with the fodder scam case, had lost to Rudy in the 2014 elections.
Lalu had also won from here before and the seat is a prestige battle for the RJD.
LJP candidate Pashupati Kumar Paras is being challenged by the RJD’s Shiv Chandra Ram. Paras is the younger brother of LJP chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who decided not to contest this time.
It is the first time after more than four decades that Ram Vilas Paswan is not contesting polls from Hajipur.
In Muzaffarpur, the BJP’s sitting MP Ajay Nishad is confident of overwhelming support against Rajbhushan Choudhary, fielded by the VIP, a part of Opposition alliance led by the RJD and Congress.
Known for its famous paintings, Madhubani Lok Sabha seat is set for a triangular contest.
BJP MP Hukum Dev Narayan Yadav’s son Ashok Yadav – a three-term MLA, seeks to retain the seat for NDA. Hukumdev had defeated Abdul Bari Siddiqui of RJD by a margin of 20,535 votes in 2014.
Former union minister and rebel Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed, who was suspended on Sunday by his former party, is in the fray as an Independent after the seat was allotted to fledgling outfit Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) as per seat-sharing arrangements within the Opposition Alliance .
Badrinath Purve, a former RJD leader, is the candidate of the VIP.
More than 87 lakh voters to decide the fate of 82 candidates
As per the data available, there are total 87,66,722 voters including 16,875 service voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the fifth phase. Of the electorate, 46,78,401 are males, 40,88,096 females and 225 third gender voters
Tight security arrangements were made and adequate para-military personnel has been deployed.
Surveillance will also be conducted by drones, said officials.
The Election Commission has set up at least 8,899 polling stations for Monday.
The general election 2019 is being held in seven phases between April 11 and May 19 to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha. Counting of votes for 542 constituencies (Election in Vellore constituency in Tamilnadu cancelled) will be conducted on May 23 and the results will be declared on the same day.