The biggest political battle of the year kicked off this past week with the first two phases of the Assembly elections in Bihar taking place. Phase 1 saw a record turnout of 57%
while Phase 2 saw a turnout of 52%
which is higher than in 2010. The fate of 81 out of the 243 seats in the Assembly have been sealed by now. The next three polling dates are on 16th October, 28th October and 5th November with the counting taking place on the 8th of November. The significance of Bihar in India's political calculus can hardly be understated. The BJP has staked Prime Minister Narendra Modi's image on the campaign and a united Opposition is trying to halt his succession of electoral victories. Bihar is also crucial for the BJP's strategy
to wrest control of the Rajya Sabha and push the PM's big ticket economic reforms legislation through. Opinion polls
, though divided, have tended to lean towards the NDA and victory on November 8th will solidify the government's political standing specially in light of the criticism it has come under over the last few weeks due to the Dadri killing and the return of Sahitya Akademi awards by various writers.