Stage set for by-poll in Rupauli assembly seat on Wednesday

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Patna, Jul 9 (PTI) The stage is set for by-poll to Rupauli assembly seat in Bihar on Wednesday when the fate of 11 candidates will be decided by more than three lakh voters.

The by-poll was necessitated by the resignation of sitting MLA Bima Bharti who is contesting the by-election as the RJD candidate.

Bharti gave up her seat a few months ago when she quit the JD(U) headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. She contested the Lok Sabha polls from Purnea but lost miserably.

The JD(U), which had fielded Bharti from Rupauli thrice, has given its ticket, in the by-poll, to Kaladhar Prasad Mandal, a relatively new entrant into the party who had contested the 2020 assembly polls from Rupauli as an Independent.

The pitch has been queered with the entry of former MLA Shankar Singh, the runner-up of 2020, who has quit the LJP (Ram Vilas) headed by Union minister Chirag Paswan to contest as an Independent.

Paswan and other NDA allies, Union Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and BJP, canvassed for Mandal in the by-election, boosting prospects of the JD(U) candidate.

The RJD hopes that Bharti will win for the party the seat she had first won on its ticket in 2005, before crossing over to JD(U) later. Her prospects have received a boost with Pappu Yadav, the Independent MP from Purnea, announcing that she had his "full support".

Singh hopes to cash in on the division of votes, especially among the numerically strong Gangotas, an OBC group to which both Mandal and Bharti belong.

The total number of electors in the constituency is 3.13 lakh. Voting will take place at 321 polling stations out of which 291 fall in rural areas.

The counting of votes will take place on Saturday. PTI NAC RG

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