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Bihar polls to be held between Oct 12 and Nov 5, results on Nov 8

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The Bihar assembly elections will be conducted in five phases between October 12 and November 5, the Election Commission announced on Wednesday, setting the stage for a tough contest between the BJP and an alliance of the JD-U and RJD that has the backing of the Congress.

The counting of votes will be held on November 8.

The polls for 243 member Bihar assembly whose term ends on November 29 is expected to be high pitch battle with Prime Minister Narendra Modi already holding four rallies and announcing a Bihar package of Rs 1,65,000 crore.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar is seeking a third term after ruling Bihar for 10 years. Kumar was earlier allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, with which he snapped ties in June 2013 after the projection of Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate for last year’s general election.

The BJP, which performed well in the state during the Lok Sabha polls, has an alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party and Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP. After the poll debacle in Delhi, this will be a major test of the “Modi wave”. With a mega Bihar package and four Parivartan rallies in the state so far, PM Modi has had a tight grip on the run-up to the polls.

The Samajwadi Party has walked out of the grand alliance of the regional parties in poll-bound Bihar, charging the JD-U and RJD with not consulting them in seat distribution and humiliating them by doling it just five seats.

The SP, which rules Uttar Pradesh, said it would contest the elections on its own.

The Election Commission held a meeting with top officials of the Union home ministry last week to discuss the deployment of security forces for the polls that could be held in October. Apart from central forces, state police personnel will also be deployed during the elections.

The term of the 243-member Bihar Assembly ends on November 29.

Why Bihar win is important for Modi’s BJP

Modi needs to win most of the state elections in the next four years to gain control of both Houses of parliament.

While the BJP and its allies have a majority in the Lower House, they only have about a quarter of the 245 members in the Upper House, where seats are distributed based on the strength of parties in state assemblies.

That has allowed the opposition parties to block some of his efforts to overhaul the economy and forced Modi to use decrees to push through decisions, a method even his supporters concede is unsustainable in the long term.

States that control about half of the seats in the Upper House will go to the polls in the next three years, but the BJP does not have a strong foothold in many of them.

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