Patna, Oct 1 (PTI) Filing of nomination papers for the Bihar Assembly elections commenced on Thursday when notification was issued for the first of the three-phase poll.
Seventy-one of the total 243 constituencies go to polls in the first phase on October 28, though only three independent candidates turned up to file their nomination papers on the first day.
Election Commission sources said that two candidates filed their nomination papers in Aurangabad while one did it in Wazirganj.
Filing of nominations for the first phase will come to a close on October 8. The process may pick up momentum once the major players, including the ruling NDA and the opposition Grand Alliance, decide which seat is to be contested by which constituent.
Many key Assembly segments go to polls in the first phase, for which the last date of withdrawal of nomination is October 12.
One among the seats where contests would be closely watched is Mokama in rural Patna, where mafia don-turned- politician Anant Singh would seek to prove a point to his former mentor, Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar.
Singh had begun his political career over a decade ago as a JD(U) MLA and retained the seat for the party twice before parting ways ahead of the 2015 Assembly polls which Kumar fought in alliance with arch-rival Lalu Prasad of the RJD.
He retained the seat as an Independent in 2015, defeating the JD(U)'s Neeraj Kumar, who is currently a powerful minister in the state cabinet.
Booked under the stringent UAPA last year following the recovery of hand grenades and an AK-47 rifle from his residence, Singh seeks to retain his seat with support of the RJD-Congress combine though it is not clear whether either party is willing to field him as the official candidate.
His wife Veena Devi had unsuccessfully fought from Munger in the Lok Sabha polls last year. His late elder brother Dilip Singh, himself a history-sheeter, had served as a minister in the Rabri Devi government.
The first phase is also likely to be in the spotlight because of former IPS officer Gupteshwar Pandey, who had served as an outspoken DGP of Bihar until taking voluntary retirement last week and following it up with a formal induction into the JD(U).
He is expected to be fielded from one of the Assembly segments in his native district of Buxar, all of which go to polls in the first phase.
Other prominent figures whose fates might be decided in the first phase include veteran Congress leader and former Assembly Speaker Sadanand Singh, who has been winning Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur district on the trot, and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi who will be looking forward to retaining Imamganj as the NDA candidate.
Notifications for the second and third phases will be issued on October 9 and 13, respectively. Elections for those two phases will be held on November 3 and 7. Votes will be counted on November 10. PTI NAC NN NN