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Holding Bihar polls amid Covid will put people at risk, turnout may be low: Chirag Paswan

LJP chief & Lok Sabha MP Chirag Paswan has urged Election Commission to think and then take a decision that will be beneficial for the people at large.

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New Delhi: Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) president and Lok Sabha MP Chirag Paswan Friday said holding Bihar assembly elections amid the Covid-19 pandemic may put a large section of the population at risk, and that the voter turnout may also be very low.

This comes when the BJP, which is the LJP’s alliance partner in Bihar, has gone all out to campaign for the elections, while the opposition in Bihar such as the Rashtriya Janata Dal has been opposing the move to hold the state elections during the pandemic.

In a series of tweets, Paswan, son of Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, said the LJP is ready for elections, but in the party’s parliamentary board meeting held Thursday, members expressed concern that holding elections amid the coronavirus crisis might not be a good idea.

Paswan also urged the Election Commission to think over it, and make a decision that is beneficial to people at large. 

“Not just Bihar, the whole country is affected by the outbreak of Covid. Common people have been affected, as have the economic budgets of the central and Bihar governments. In this scenario, additional economic burden will be incurred on the state if elections take place. All members of the parliamentary board have raised concerns on this subject,” he tweeted.

“The Election Commission should also think about it and decide, lest a large population be put at risk due to elections. In the midst of this epidemic, polling percentage may also remain low, which is not good for democracy,” he said.

The assembly elections are likely to be held later this year. The Election Commission hasn’t made any official announcement in this regard.

Also read: Bihar election is more crucial for Modi than Nitish. So NDA is leaving nothing to chance

Differences with Nitish’s JD(U)

Paswan Thursday held the meeting with senior party leaders to prepare a strategy for the upcoming Bihar assembly polls amidst differences with alliance partner Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United).

The LJP had fought on 42 seats out of the 243 in the 2015 assembly polls when Nitish Kumar was part of the Grand Alliance with Congress and the RJD.

The party has been pressing for at least 43 seats for the upcoming elections too, but it has not been finalised yet. 

Recent reports of rifts between the two regional parties has only made the task difficult for the BJP to carry out the exercise of seat distribution. The BJP has so far maintained that it will fight the assembly elections under chief minister Nitish Kumar. 

In an interview to PTI last month, Paswan had raised eyebrows with his comment that he would support the BJP “whether it goes with Nitish Kumar’s leadership or changes its mind”. 

BJP leaders, however, have been maintaining all is well within the alliance.

Crucial Bihar polls

The Bihar elections are quite crucial for the BJP as they come after a series of poll losses in state elections since 2018. 

The party lost the 2020 Delhi and 2019 Jharkhand elections, and was unable to form the government in Maharashtra despite emerging as the single-largest party. 

The Bihar election is also important for the party as, despite being in an alliance with the JD(U), it has lately tried to position itself as the leading partner, with Union Home Minister Amit Shah leading from the front and has held a virtual rally too last month. 

Also read: 9,500 IT cell heads, 72,000 WhatsApp groups — how BJP is preparing for Bihar poll battle


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