All eyes in Bihar are on the election to eight seats of the state Legislative Council being held on Thursday (22 October). Coming barely a week before the crucial Assembly elections, the elections to the Upper House are being seen as a curtain raiser.
At stake are four seats in the teachers constituency and four in the graduates constituency. The elections to the eight seats in the 75-member Council will set the mood for the three-phase Assembly polls next week.
Of the four seats in the teachers’ constituency, one each was held by the BJP and the Congress and the remaining two by the Communist Party of India (CPI).
The Janata Dal-United (JD(U)) held two seats in the graduates’ constituency, the BJP held one while the other was held by an Independent.
The stakes are high this time since candidates from all the major parties are in the fray. Bihar Pradesh Congress president Madan Mohan Jha and Information and Public Relations Minister Neeraj Kumar (of the JD(U)) are among the candidates.
Results of these elections will be announced on 12 November, two days after the Assembly elections are declared.
However, due to the limited electorate for each seat and an effective but informal exit-poll mechanism that prevails, the outcome of Council elections become evident within a day of polls.
Thus, the informally-known results are expected to energise, or demoralise (as the case may be), the parties in the fray in the run up to the decisive Assembly elections.
There are 4.07 lakh voters for the four graduate constituencies and 40,413 voters for the four seats from the teachers’ constituency.
The state election commission had revised the electoral lists and deleted hundreds of names after they were found to be fake.
All teachers of 250 colleges, 18 universities, thousands of secondary and higher secondary schools, a huge number of aided institutions, central schools, Navodaya Vidyalayas, polytechnics and technical and teachers’ training colleges are eligible to contest and vote for the seats in the teachers’ constituencies.
In a bid to woo the teachers, chief minister Nitish Kumar recently announced improvement in the service conditions of teachers, a hike in their salaries and enhanced post-retirement benefits. The RJD, Congress and LJP also made a number of promises to teachers.
Interestingly, teachers are eligible to vote in the elections to the teachers’ as well as graduates’ constituencies as all teachers are also graduates. And they will vote in the Assembly elections also.
For the election machinery, Thursday’s elections will be a test for all the arrangements made for the Assembly polls.
All the Covid-19 guidelines laid down by the Election Commission of India will be in place and will be tested. The ECI will closely follow the conduct of Thursday’s elections and address any lacuna or shortcoming.
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