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Friday, 11 February, 2000, 20:36 GMT
Guide to Indian state elections

Voting in India Voters have a bewildering choice of parties and candidates


Four states are going to the polls in legislative assembly elections beginning on 12 February. Counting of votes will begin on 25 February.

Bihar

Bihar facts
Voting on 12, 17 and 22 February
324 seats
Main parties: Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, BJP and allies
Main candidates: Laloo Prasad Yadav (RJD)
The governing Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and its Leftist/Communist allies say they need to be re-elected to fight against the communal forces of the BJP.

But the BJP and its allies (the Janata Dal United/Samta Party) are focusing on the state's problems with lawlessness.

They blame the governing authorities for corruption and for allowing large-scale caste-related killings to take place.

More than 100 such massacres have happened during the present state government's term of office.

Tight security arrangements have been put in place because of Bihar's record of poll-related violence.

The independent Election Commission has taken the unusual step of asking doctors and other medical staff to be on high alert.

Orissa

Orissa facts
Voting on 17 and 22 February
147 seats
Main parties: Congress, Biju Janata Dal in alliance with BJP
Main candidates: Hemanand Biswal (Congress)
So far campaigning has largely focused on the Congress state government's handling of the relief operation after October's cyclone, which caused devastation in large parts of the state and left many thousands dead.

The main opposition parties say the goverment should have responded more effectively to the crisis. which culminated in the sacking of the then chief minister, Giridhar Gamang.

Haryana

Haryana facts
Voting on 22 February
90 seats
Main parties: Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in alliance with BJP, Congress, Haryana Vikas Party (HVP)
Main candidates: Om Prakash Chautala (INLD), Bhopinder Singh Hooda (Congress)
Development is a key issue in all the parties' manifestos.

Water and power shortages in this largely agricultural state have left many of the electorate deeply unhappy with the pace of development projects and industrialisation.

Stability of government is also a key issue - the INLD and BJP alliance is promsing a stable government following the collapse of Bansi Lal's HVP government after less than three years in power.

However, Congress says there is much infighting between the INLD and BJP and maintains that this will result in an unstable alliance for the state.

Manipur

Manipur Parties
Voting on 12 and 22 February
60 seats
Main parties: Secular Democratic Front (Congress, Manipur People's Party, Janata Dal - secular, Revolutionary Socialist Party, CPI and CPI - Marxist; United Front (Manipur State Congress Party and Federal Party of Manipur); Manipur Democratic Alliance (BJP, Janata Dal - United and Samata Party); and Kuki National Assembly.
Development is a key issue in the state - many major development projects have been promised by Delhi which voters want to see implemented speedily.

All the main parties also have to address the issue of tribal separatism and security concerns.

Most parties say that if elected, they will negotiate with some separatist groups but will not allow any possible division of Manipur to take place.

Manipur Candidates
Main candidates: W Nipamacha Singh (MSCP), Rishan Keshing (Congress)
All the parties are pledging to take away the special rights given to security forces in the state - they say this is in order to proivde a better safeguard for human rights.

Other elections

There will also been elections for the Bellary parliamentary seat in Karnataka vacated by the Congress Party President, Sonia Gandhi, and the Kannauj parliamentary seat in Uttar Pradesh, vacated by the Samajwadi Party chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav.

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11 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Strict security for Bihar poll
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