All eyes are now on the polling for the third and final phase of assembly elections in Bihar. Stakes are quite high for the ruling BJP-JD(U) which is trying to avert the anti-incumbency factor. As many as 12 ministers are in the fray. According to ECI, about 2.34 crore voters, spread across 78 assembly seats in 19 districts in north Bihar will decide the fates of 1204 candidates. The areas falling north of the Ganges in the state are called in common parlance. Many of these fall in the Kosi-Seemanchal region where AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi has fielded candidates in many of the Muslim-dominated seats.
Bihar polls phase 3: Let's take a look at the key candidates who are in the fray:
Pappu Yadav is contesting from Madhepura assembly seat which is one of the 78 seats that are going to polls today. It falls under the Madhepura Lok Sabha seat. Madhepura is considered Pappu Yadav's stronghold. Yadavs have a sizeable population here, making around 40 per cent. Pappy Yadav alias Rajesh Ranjan heads the Jan Adhikar Party - Loktantrik (JAP-L). A former MP, Pappu Yadav is a prominent Yadav face in the region. He lost the parliamentary seat to Dinesh Chandra Yadav of JD(U) in the 2019 general election. The RJD has fielded Chandra Shekhar from here. In 2015, Chandra Shekhar had defeated BJP’s Vijay Kumar. The JD(U) has fielded Nikhil Mandal, the grandson of former chief minister and chairman of Mandal Commission, BP Mandal.
Subhashini Raj Rao is the daughter of Loktantrik Janata Dal leader and former JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav. Rao jumped into the electoral battle to protect her father's political legacy. She is contesting from Bihariganj assembly seat on a Congress ticket. Bihariganj vidhan sabha is a part of the Madhepura Lok Sabha seat.
Vijay Kumar Chaudhary is a Janata Dal (United) leader. He is also the Speaker of the outgoing assembly. He is contesting from the Sarairanjan seat. He is famed for his ability to win over hostile opponents with a disarming smile. He is seeking a hat-trick in Sarairanjan.
Bijendra Prasad Yadav
Bijendra Prasad Yadav is a minister in the outgoing Nitish Kumar government. An MLA from Supaul seat since 1990, he is considered a senior aide of Nitish Kumar. Currently, he is the Minister of Energy. A prominent Yadav leader, the 65-year-old politician enjoys a clean image and is known for his administrative skills.
Abdul Bari Siddiqui is the RJD's Muslim face. He is contesting elections from the Keoti assembly seat. Siddiqui was appointed as the Leader of Opposition following the 2010 assembly election until the split between JD(U) and BJP in 2013. Siddiqui was the Finance minister in the grand alliance government between November 2015 and July 2017. The BJP has fielded Murari Mohan Jha against Siddiqui. RJD's Fraz Fatmi had won from here in 2015. Between 2005 and 2015, the seat was represented by BJP's Ashok Kumar Yadav.
Narendra Narayan Yadav
Narendra Narayan Yadav of the JD(U) has been the undefeated champion of Alamnagar since 1995. The Alamnagar seat is considered a JD(U) bastion. It falls in Madhepura district and is also a part of Madhepura Lok Sabha seat. Parliamentary constituency. Narendra, a minister in the outgoing government, is seeking a seventh consecutive term. The RJD has fielded Navin Kumar Nishad while the LJP has fielded Sunila Devi against him.
Pramod Kumar is a BJP leader. A minister in the outgoing government, Pramod Kumar is contesting elections from Motihari assembly seat in East Champaran district. The Motihari seat is considered a BJP bastion. Pramod Kumar is representing the seat since 2005. The RJD has fielded Om Prakash Choudhary from here.
Sanjay Sarawgi is a BJP leader. He is contesting from Darbhanga Urban Assembly seat for the fourth time in a row. He won from here in 2005, 2010, and 2015. A prominent BJP leader, Sanjay is banking on the party's core vote bank from the region to score a win.
Madan Sahni is Bihar's Food and Consumer Protection Minister. He is contesting from Bahadurpur Assembly seat in Darbhanga in north Bihar. Sahni is currently a lawmaker from Gaura Bauram. He is pitted against RJD's Ramesh Chaudhary ad LJP's Devendra Kumar Jha.
Lalit Yadav is a prominent RJD leader. A five-term MLA, Lalit is facing a tough fight against JD(U) leader Faraj Fatmi who is the son of former MP Mohd. Ali Ashraf. The Muslim-Yadav factor has helped Lalit in his five victories. The LJP has given a ticket to BJP turncoat Pradip Kumar Thakur.
Binay Kumar Chaudhary
Binay Kumar Chaudhary is in the fray from Benipur Assembly seat in Darbhanga district. Binya is contesting on a JD(U) ticket against Congress' Mithilesh Chaudhary and LJP's Kamal Ram Binod Jha. The JD(U) had in 2019 named Binay as the party's district unit president. JD(U) leader Sunil Chaudhary had won from here in 2015.
The other ministers who are in the fray include Maheshwar Hazari (Kalyanpur), Ramesh Rishideo (Singheshwar), Khurshid alias Firoz Ahmed (Sikta), Lakshmeshwar Roy (Laukaha), Bima Bharti (Rupauli), Suresh Sharma (Muzaffarpur), Binod Narayan Jha (Benipatti) and Krishnakumar Rishi (Banmankhi). Besides, wife and daughter-in-law respectively of recently deceased ministers Vinod Kumar Singh (BJP) and Kapil Deo Kamat (JDU) respectively are in the fray from the late legislators respective seats Pranpur and Babubarhi.