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    Dismissing Covid-19 concern: JDU, BJP hopeful of timely assembly elections in Bihar

    Synopsis

    Bihar has reported nearly 94,500 cases so far but with fewer than 500 deaths, translating to one of the lowest fatality rates in the country at 0.5%. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the country should aim at bringing down the fatality rate from 2% to 1%.

    Nitish Kumar, Bihar CM
    New Delhi: JDU and BJP in the NDA-ruled Bihar are hoping for assembly elections on time in October while dismissing concerns raised by the opposition over Covid-19 by pointing to the low fatality rate in the state and an increase in daily tests for the infection to the highest in the country.

    Bihar has reported nearly 94,500 cases so far but with fewer than 500 deaths, translating to one of the lowest fatality rates in the country at 0.5%. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the country should aim at bringing down the fatality rate from 2% to 1%.

    Opposition RJD has been pressing for a delay in the polls, asking whether the JDU and the BJP want to hold the election over dead bodies, and has said that voter turnout will suffer because of the pandemic.

    However, JDU’s KC Tyagi told ET: “Bihar is nowhere among the top states in terms of fatalities. Over one lakh tests have been done in Bihar in the last 24 hours.”

    Citing polls conducted in other countries amid the pandemic, he said: “Elections have just been held in Sri Lanka with 76% polling and in Poland with 65% polling. There was 95% voting in the elections in June in Singapore and 66% voting in elections in South Korea. Bihar will follow all guidelines under NDMA Act, of WHO/ICMR and those of Election Commission, for the polls.”

    A senior BJP leader said on condition of anonymity that the state’s health ministry under BJP leader Mangal Pandey was following the centre’s prescription of increasing tests, keeping the recovery rate high and fatality rate low, and that the EC might consider this while making its final decision. “More cases will come as we now test more. But the recovery rate is over 66%, which is almost on a par with the national recovery rate,” he said, adding that more than 60% of those who died of the infection in the state had comorbidities.

    Opposition parties have, however, warned that the infection could peak in Bihar in September-October, making polls on schedule risky. RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav has said that Bihar could rise to the third spot in the country in terms of total cases by September 1, from seventh on August 1.
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