The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday announces the dates for the Bihar Assembly elections amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Bihar to vote in 3 phases on 28th October, 3rd and 7th November; results on 10th November,” Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.

At the press conference, the Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said, “Over 7 lakh hand sanitiser units, about 46 lakh masks, 6 lakh PPE kits, 6.7 lakh units of faces-shields, 23 lakh (pairs of) hand gloves arranged. For voters specifically, 7.2 crore single-use hand gloves arranged.”

“The term of assembly in the state of Bihar is due to expire on 29th November, 2020. Bihar assembly has a strength of 243 members, of whom 38 seats are reserved for SCs and two for STs,” he told.

“As days and months passed and Covid-19 showed no signs of abetting, it was realised that some way would have to be found to balance the democratic rights of the electorate while also making sincere & systematic efforts to protect health & safety of people,” he said.

“Covid patients who’re quarantined will be able to cast their vote on the last day of poll, at their respective polling stations, under the supervision of health authorities,” CEC said.

“This is beside the option of postal facility already extended to them,” he added.

“To further decongest polling stations and allow more free movement of voters, polling time has been increased by 1 hour. It’ll be held from 7 am-6 pm, instead of 7 am-5 pm earlier. However, this will not be applicable to Left-wing affected areas,” he told.

“The social media platforms are expected to make adequate arrangements to safeguard against misuse of their platforms and set up strict protocols to handle such issues as and when they arise,” he said.

Last month, the Supreme Court had refused to entertain a petition seeking postponement of the Bihar Assembly elections due to the spread of coronavirus.

The apex court had said that the petition is premature as the Election Commission of India is yet to declare the schedule for the Bihar Assembly elections.

Prior to this, the Election Commission had already issued the broad guidelines for the conduct of the election.

With the outbreak of the pandemic, the ECI had sought suggestions of the National/State Political Parties for the conduct of elections.

As per the guidelines, a maximum of 1,000 voters can be present at any polling booth at a time, and every voter’s body temperature will be checked before the person is allowed to enter the booth.

Face Mask, Sanitizer, Thermal scanners, gloves, face shield and PPE kits shall be used during the electoral process ensuring social distancing norms. Hand gloves shall be provided to all the electors for signing on the voter register and pressing button of EVM for voting.

The BJP-JD (U) coalition is predefined in this election unlike the 2015 one as the BJP chief JP Nadda had said that the party will fight the election under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Nadda was addressing the party’s Bihar working committee via video conferencing. He expressed confidence in the alliance of BJP, JD (U) and LJP in the state and said, “We will fight Bihar polls together and emerge victoriously.”