Bihar Assembly Election 2020 Latest Update: Amid tight security, 71 assembly segments across six districts, including some of the Naxal-hit areas, are all set to go to polls in the first phase on Wednesday. Also Read - Bihar's New Education Minister Struggles to Recite National Anthem, Trolled on Twitter | Watch

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For the first phase of the polls, guidelines have already been issued by the Election Commission for safe conduct of the electoral exercise. Also Read - Dynastic Parties Are The Biggest Threat To Democracy, Says PM Modi | Highlights

Some of the crucial guidelines include lowering the cap on the maximum number of voters for a polling booth from 1,600 to 1,000, staggering of polling hours and postal ballot facility for those aged above 80, or those afflicted with or suspected to be carrying the contagion.

Besides, sanitisation of electronic voting machines, wearing of masks and other protective gear by polling personnel and availability of thermal scanner, hand sanitiser, soap and water will be ensured.

2.14 crore voters to exercise franchise

As per data from the Election Commission, of the total 2.14 crore voters who will exercise their franchise, 1.01 crore are women and 599 belong to the third gender.

The candidates include 952 men and 114 women, the maximum number (27) being in the fray at Gaya Town and the minimum (5) at Katoria in Banka district.

Major political parties

Among the major political parties, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) is contesting in 35 of the 71 seats, followed by its ally BJP (29), while the opposition RJD has fielded its candidates in 42 and its coalition partner Congress is in the fray in 20 assembly segments.

Among others, Lok Janshakti Party, headed by Chirag Paswan, is in the fray in 41 seats, which include all the 35 contested by the JD(U), in keeping with the call given by the young party president, who recently pulled out of the NDA in the state, to “dislodge” the chief minister from power.

For the first phase of polls, the prominent candidates include Shreyasi Singh, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist shooter who is making her debut at the age of 27 as the BJP candidate from Jamui.

Chirag Paswan, who represents Jamui Lok Sabha and insists that he remains loyal to the BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has assured full support of his party to the young debutant.

Shreyasi Singh is pitted against Vijay Prakash Yadav of the RJD, the sitting MLA whose elder brother Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav is a former Union minister and a close aide of party supremo Lalu Prasad.

Notably, the former Union minister’s 28-year-old daughter Divya Prakash is also making her debut in the adjoining Tarapur constituency as the candidate of her father’s party.

Six members of the state cabinet Prem Kumar (Gaya Town), Vijay Kumar Sinha (Lakhisarai), Ram Narayan Mandal (Banka), Krishnanandan Prasad Verma (Jehanabad), Jaikumar Singh (Dinara) and Santosh Kumar Nirala (Rajpur) are in the fray in the first phase.

Of the six, Verma, Singh and Nirala belong to the JD(U), while the remaining are from the BJP. The JD(U) ministers seek to win their seats contending with the LJP factor.

Former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha president Jitan Ram Manjhi, who is the NDA candidate, is the sitting MLA.

(With inputs from agencies)