Patna: Assembly elections in Bihar ended on a violent note when two policemen were killed while defusing a bomb during the sixth and final phase on Saturday in the first casualties in the polls in which the overall voter turnout was around 52 percent.
Counting of votes will be taken up on November 24 after the keenly fought elections spread over a month in the politically crucial state in which development issues appeared
to override caste factor.
A Bihar Military Police constable and a homeguard were killed and nine others, including three journalists, injured when the landmine planted by Maoists exploded as a BMP bomb disposal squad attempted to defuse it near Londa village in Gaya district, police sources said.
The Maoists had renewed their poll boycott call for the final phase in which the voter turnout in the remaining 26 seats was an estimated 51 percent. An average 53 percent of
the electorate exercised their franchise in the previous five phases of the polls that commenced on October 21.
The injured were hospitalised with the condition of two stated to be critical, the sources said.
The elections were marked by a spirited campaign by top leaders of various parties in which Chief Ministers Nitish Kumar, heading a JD(U)-BJP coalition, and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi clashed over development issues.RJD leader Lalu Yadav also campaigned extensively to woo voters in his inimitable style.
In a House of 243, the ruling parties JD(U) and BJP have 88 and 55 seats respectively. RJD and Ram Vilas Paswan`s LJP have 54 and 10 respectively. Congress has nine seats in the outgoing house. 122 is the magic mark required for any coalition or party to make a bid to form a government.
A Railway Protection Security Force constable suffered splinter injuries when Maoists detonated a pressure mine while a patrol was crossing a hilly dry rivulet near Barachatti
police station area in Gaya district this morning, Director General of Police Neelmani said.
Securitymen seized dud bombs at three booths in Kasma in Aurangabad district and at Ghatera booth under Guraru police station in Gaya district this morning, Neelmani said.
Maoists exchanged fire with security personnel at Matiawan in Sasaram but no one was killed or injured, he said.
They also engaged securitymen in Tardih hills under Chenari assembly constituency in Rohtas district but no casualty was reported, Superintendent of Police Vikas Baibhav
Neelmani said 35 arrests were made during polling hours.
Of the constituencies in Gaya, Aurangabad, Rohtas, Kaimur and Buxar districts, 18 were declared `Naxalite-hit` where polling was held between 7:00 am and 3:00 pm.
Altogether 35,000 security personnel and four BSF helicopters were deployed as part of tight security arrangements for today`s elections.
The four helicopters, including an MI-17 and a Dhruv, kept air surveillance over Gaya, Aurangabad, Rohtas, Buxar and Kaimur districts with Special Task Force commandos aboard.
Prominent among the 426 candidates whose fates were sealed in EVMs were Speaker and JD(U) leader Uday Narayan Choudhary (Imamganj), BJP minister Awadhesh Narayan Singh (Dehri), JD(U) ministers Chhedi Paswan (Mohania) and Anil Kumar (Tekari).
Others were former Union minister and RJD leader Kanti Singh (Chenari), besides senior RJD leaders Shakeel Ahmed Khan (Sherghati), Suresh Paswan (Kutumba) and Iliyas Hussain (Dehri).
In Naxalite-hit constituencies, Bhabhua recorded 51 percent, Chainpur 51 percent, Chenari 52 percent, Sasaram 51 percent, Dinara 46 percent, Dehri 51 percent, Karakat 53 percent, Goh 48 percent, Navinagar 47 percent, Kutumba 47 percent and Rafiganj 51 percent, election officials said.
Besides, Gurua registered a voter turnout of 50 percent, Sherghati 47 percent, Imamganj 40 percent, Barachatti 42 percent, Tikari 42 percent, Nokha 49 percent and
Aurangabad 52 percent).