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  • Raghav Sand

Bihar State Assembly Election 2020

The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced dates for polling to the Bihar state assembly in a press conference today. Election will be held in three phases – polling dates are 28th October, 3rd November, and 7th November. The results will be announced on 10th November.

Image Courtesy – ECI Website

The term of the current assembly expires on 29th November. Bihar assembly has a strength of 243 members, of whom 38 seats are reserved for SCs and two for STs.

New Normal for Conducting Elections

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Shri Sunil Arora, in the webinar held earlier in the week, underscored the commitment of Election Management Bodies across the world, for the conduct of timely, free, fair and participatory elections to foster democracy in the world. He added, elections have not only to be free and fair, but also ensure safety for the electors as well as polling officials and security personnel on duty.

Social Distancing

In view of maintaining social distancing norms, the number of voters per polling station has been reduced to 1000 form the earlier figure of 1500. This will raise number of polling stations to over 1 lakh in 2020 from 65,337 in 2015 poll. Shri Arora informed that over 7 lakh hand sanitizer units, about 46 lakh masks, 6 lakh PPE kits, 6.7 lakh units of faces-shields, and 23 lakh (pairs of) hand gloves are being arranged. District election officers have to earmark grounds for in-person campaigning and circles should be marked on the ground to ensure social distancing. Some of the districts will see voting being conducted over two phases.

Social Media and Hate Speech

CEC made a categorical remark with respect to social media and hate speech. He cautioned against use of social media platforms for spreading fake news and other distasteful communication. Shri Arora added that, instances of hate speech will be dealt sternly as per the prevailing laws.

Pre-poll Alliances

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is the incumbent coalition in the state. It will fight the election under the leadership of Shri Nitish Kumar; NDA had received 41.25% of votes in the last state assembly elections. It will be a challenge to maintain this vote share, but given the primary opposition alliance does not have its house in order, the task may be achieved if proper seat and ticket allocation takes place. Bihar is a state where caste dynamics play a big role and balancing this issue will test political acumen of party / alliance think tanks.

Bihar and Key Development Indices


The land of Nalanda University has always been a land of scholars and industrious students. We cannot assess the extent of development in education with few notable examples. The true test of any government and / or private endeavour in the field of learning is how it impacts the lesser advantaged sections of society. With a literacy rate of 70.9 per cent, Bihar lags behind the national average of 77.7 per cent. New enrollment rate in primary education has come down to 86.2 per cent in 2017-18 form the level of 99.52 per cent in 2015-16. Decline has also been witnessed in higher secondary enrollment, where the percentage has come down to 31.15 per cent in 2017-18 form 35.65 per cent in 2015-16. Bihar (66.17 per cent) lags behind the national average (87.24 per cent) in the trained teacher availability.

GDP and Related Consumption

The Bihar government presented its 14th Economic Survey 2019-20 in the Assembly on 24th February, 2020. After tabling the survey and budget, Deputy Chief Minister and State Finance Minister Sushil Kumar Modi told media persons that “With an average of over 10% per cent growth, Bihar has registered higher growth than the growth rate of India in the last three years”.

He added, “The per capita consumption of the electricity in the state has risen from 145 kwh in 2012-13 to 311 kwh in 2018-19, implying growth of 114 per cent in six years and the availability of power has increased from an average of 6-8 hours to 20-22 hours in rural areas and from 10-12 hours to 22-24 hours in urban areas”

The proportion of population with access to internet has risen to 32.45 per cent in 2019-20 from 14.26 per cent in 2015-16.

Areas of Concern

Patna, the capital city of Bihar was ranked 47th (last), among cities with population above ten lakh, in the Swachh Survekshan – an annual survey of cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation in cities and towns across India. The state of Bihar had just one town in the top 25 on the Ganga towns cleanliness survey, with Munger bagging the third spot. In states which have more than hundred urban local bodies, Bihar was ranked a lowly 12th. In 2018, Bihar had 6950 cases of missing children (all India figure 67134), which was a steep increase from the 2057 cases in 2015.

In the domain of financial inclusion Bihar has a lot of catching up to do. It has 99 banking outlets and 7 ATMs per 1,00,000 persons. The state has 93.38 per cent of educational institutions with separate toilet for girls. Unemployment rose to 10.2 per cent in 2018-19 from 7.2 per cent in 2017-18. Six cases of dowry were reported per lakh women in 2019; the national average was 3.19 cases per lakh women. The national maternal mortality rate in 2019 was 122 deaths per lakh live births and the figure for Bihar stood at 165 per lakh live births.

Work in Progress

Development is a process and not a product. Governments have to be mindful in distributing the fruits of progress among all the sections of society in an equitable manner. Elections are a celebration of democracy and in the times of pandemic we cannot lower our guard and at the same time we also cannot disregard its significance in our lives.

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