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Bihar polls: Polling peaceful; 54% voter turn-out

Last Updated: Thursday, October 28, 2010 - 19:06

Zeenews Bureau

Patna: Barring stray incidents, polling passed
off peacefully in 48 constituencies figuring in the third
phase of Bihar Assembly elections, which saw an estimated 54
per cent voter turnout.

Balloting continued briskly in 48 constituencies where men and women queued up outside thousands of polling centres, defying calls from Maoists to boycott the elections.

State Chief Electoral Officer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh said 58
per cent polling was recorded in West Champaran, 57 per cent
in East Champaran, 51 per cent in Gopalgunj, 52 per cent in
Siwan, 50 per cent in Saran and 54 per cent in Vaishali
districts.

Voters were ferried by boats in the riverine areas of
Raghopur Assembly constituency in Vaishali district where
former chief minister Rabri Devi is in the fray. The wife of
RJD supremo Lalu Prasad is also contesting from Sonepur seat
in Saran district.

The third phase was a test for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar`s claims of good governance and rule of law as well as his development plank.

Nitish Kumar`s Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and his ally the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hold 27 of the 48 seats.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal and Lok Janshakti Party hold 14 seats, and the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML) one each. Independents hold four seats.

Thursday`s polling began at 7 am. In some places, queues started forming even before the voting began.

Election officials said 22 percent of the voters had exercised their franchise till 11 am. Voting will close at 5 pm, except in four Maoist-affected places where it will end at 3 pm.

Bihar police chief Neelmani told IANS that polling was largely peaceful barring minor clashes and some moves by troublemakers to disturb balloting in a few booths.

Angry voters in over a dozen villages boycotted the elections and shouted slogans denouncing the government for not doing enough development work.

Voters were ferried by boats in the riverine areas of
Raghopur Assembly constituency in Vaishali district where
former chief minister Rabri Devi is in the fray. The wife of
RJD supremo Lalu Prasad is also contesting from Sonepur seat
in Saran district.

Borders with Nepal and Uttar Pradesh were sealed and DIG
and Commissioner of Saran division along with special task
force commandos kept surveillance from the air, Neelmani said.

Constable Pramod Pandey was detained from a booth in an
inebriated state in Gopalganj town, he said.

BJP and RJD workers clashed at two booths in Raxaul
Assembly constituency in East Champaran district, but none was
injured, official sources said.

A scuffle broke out between supporters of rival candidates
at a booth at Madhavpur in Lalganj Assembly constituency in
Vaishali district, they said.

An independent candidate Awdhesh Singh was arrested with Rs
15,000 in cash for allegedly influencing voters in Amnour
constituency in Saran district, they said.

A presiding officer was arrested from a booth in Gopalganj
constituency for committing electoral irregularities, they
said.

An old woman too died at a booth at Badhara in Siwan
district, they said.

The car of state BJP minister Renu Devi was seized in
Bettiah town.

Defects in EVMs were, initially, reported from a few
polling centres and Balmikingar, Bagha, Bettiah, Siwan,
Vaishali and Gopalganj constituencies, but they were attended
to and replaced in some cases.

Neelmani said unprecedented security measures had been taken to ensure a peaceful ballot.

Paramilitary forces have been deployed in 85 percent of the booths. Helicopters were used for air surveillance, he said.

The Sashastra Seema Bal sealed the India-Nepal border and the border with Uttar Pradesh.

The first two rounds of the elections took place Oct 21 and 24 for 47 and 45 seats respectively.

The heavyweights in this phase include former chief minister Rabri Devi, contesting from Raghopur in Vaishali and Sonepur in Saran district, JD-U`s Birshen Patel from Vaishali and BJP`s Renu Devi from Bettiah.

The next rounds of the six-phased elections will be held Nov 1, 9 and 20. Votes will be counted Nov 24.

-Agencies inputs

First Published: Thursday, October 28, 2010 - 19:06

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