In the second phase, 94 assembly constituencies in 17 districts will go to polls across 42,000 polling stations on November 3.
The districts going for polls in the second phase are Gopalganj, East Champaran, Siwan, Saran, Muzaffarpur, Sheohar, Vaishali, Patna, Nalanda, Samastipur, Begusarai, Khagaria and Bhagalpur, West Champaran, Madhubani, Sitamarhi, Darbhanga and Nalanda.
As many as 1,464 candidates will contest in the second phase of elections after 94 of them withdrew their nominations.
Darauli assembly constituency has the lowest number of candidates at four, while the highest of 27 people are in the fray in Maharajganj seat.
The Election Commission has set up 42,000 polling stations for voters to exercise their right to franchise.
Out of 94 constituencies going for polls, 13 seats are reserved for the SC and balance 81 are for general category.
There are 29 seats where the minority population is more than the state average of 17% and they are likely to play a key role here. In none of the seats, Mahadalit population is more than the state average.
Under the seat-sharing arrangements in the Mahagathbandhan, RJD is contesting on 60% of the seats, INC on 25% and Left parties on 15%. BJP is contesting on 46 and JDU on 43 seats.
The maximum contests are between BJP and RJD on 27 seats, JDU and RJD on 24 seats. These tough contests will determine the course of the Phase 2 polling.
Nearly half of the BJP's 46 candidates for the second phase of voting belong to the upper castes -Rajputs, Bhumihars, Brahmins, Kayasthas and Vaishyas which constitute the core base of the saffron party in the state.
The party has also given tickets to 8 Yadavs, seeking to make a dent into the opposition RJDs unquestionable sway over the most sizeable OBC group in the state. Though not a single ticket has been given to a Muslim candidate.
On the other hand, RJD has given maximum tickets to Yadavs who are their core vote bank. Congress and LJP have given majority tickets to the upper caste in a bid to lure them away from NDA.
In 2015, JDU had won 33 seats, RJD 30, BJP 20, Congress 7, LJP 2, CPM 1 and Independent 1 seat. NDA had won 53 seats, MGB 38 and Others 3.
Not an apples-to-apples comparison as partners in both alliances have changed. JDU has hopped from MGB to NDA. CPIML has joined MGB. RLSP and LJP have left NDA.
Of 50 sitting MLAs of NDA, tickets have been denied to 16 (32%, 10% higher than Phase 1). Of 41 sitting MLAs of MGB, tickets have been denied to 20 (50%, 6% higher than Phase 1).
8 of these seats witnessed tight contests in 2015 with victory margins of less than 3,000 votes. In 4 seats the victory margin was between 3 to 5,000 votes.
So 12 seats had close contests. 17 of these tight contests were won by more than 5,000 votes which is considered a decent margin in assembly polls.
As many as 65 seats were decided by more than 10,000 votes difference, denoting comfortable wins.
With two major contenders this time and 2-3 spoilers, will margins reduce further, it remains to be seen?
Prominent among those who will be seeking re-election from their respective seats are ministers Nand Kishore Yadav (Patna City) and Rana Randhir (Madhuban).
State BJP vice president Nitish Mishra, son of former chief minister Jagannath Mishra and a former minister himself, is in the fray from Jhanjharpur, a seat he won on a JD(U) ticket in 2010, but lost to the RJD five years later when he contested as a BJP candidate.
Another candidate, who has risen from the ranks and made it to the list is Nikhil Anand, one of the most prominent spokesmen in the state unit who will be challenging RJD strongman Bhai Virendra in Maner.
RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav will be contesting from Raghopur and Tej Pratap from Hassanpur seat in Samastipur district. Tejashwi's main rival is Satish Kumar of the BJP, who had defeated former chief minister and Tejashwi’s mother Rabri Devi from the same seat in the 2010 polls
Other prominent faces in the fray in the second phase are RJD leaders Alok Kumar Mehta from Ujiyarpur and Shailesh Kumar from Bihpur, former parliamentarian Anand Mohan's son Chetan Anand from Sheohar, former parliamentarian Rama Singh's wife Beena Singh from Mahnar, and Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha's son Luv from Bankipur.
More than 80% constituencies going for polls in the second phase are flood-affected. Other prominent poll issues in the second phase will be employment, acute encephalitis (chamki fever), loss of litchi crops, folk artist payment issues and migrant crisis.
Corruption is also a big issue as bureaucratic lapses have impeded the implementation of almost all government schemes in these areas.
To sum up, Phase 2 is very crucial for both parties to build on the momentum of Phase 1.
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