Voting began in 71 constituencies spread across 16 districts in the first phase of the Bihar Assembly elections on Wednesday at 7 am. 51.8% polling recorded till 5 pm in Phase 1, compared to 54.9% in 2015 is the first election that is being held amid Covid-19 pandemic. As many as 1,066 candidates are in the fray including 42 from Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), 35 from Janata Dal (United), 29 from BJP, 21 from Congress and 8 from Left parties. Bihar is witnessing a triangular contest between the ruling JDU-BJP alliance, the Mahagathbandhan or the grand alliance (RJD, Congress and others) and Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), which is eying the role of a kingmaker in case of a hung Assembly. The elections will decide if Nitish Kumar will win a fourth term as Chief Minister. On one side is the NDA which includes JD-U (contesting 115 seats), BJP (110 seats), Vikassheel Insaan Party (11 seats) and Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (7 seats). Mahagathbandhan, which picked Tejashwi Yadav as chief ministerial candidate, constitutes RJD (144 seats) and the Congress with 70 seats. Other alliance partners include the CPI-ML (19 seats), CPI (6 seats), and the CPIM (4 seats). LJP is contesting 136 seats on its own and has fielded candidates against all JD-U nominees and only a few against BJP. Polling for the second phase is to take place on November 3 and for the third phase on November 7. The counting of votes will be done on November 10.