Women power pushes up Bihar poll turnout

Greater participation of women in the democratic exercise pushed up the voting percentage in Bihar assembly polls this time by around 7 percent compared to five years ago.

Updated: Nov 21, 2010, 01:18 AM IST

New Delhi: Greater participation of women
in the democratic exercise pushed up the voting percentage in
Bihar assembly polls this time by around 7 percent compared to
five years ago.

The cumulative voting percentage in the six-phase polls
rose to 52.43 percent this year, up from 45.85 percent
recorded in October 2005 assembly election and 44.46 percent
in 2009 Lok Sabha elections in the state.

While the voting turn out of males was 50.77 percent, the
women`s turn out was 54.85 percent. It was a quantum jump,
Election Commission officials here said.

And for a change, the state did not report a single case
of booth-capturing. "This was the most peaceful election
ever" held in Bihar", Chief Election Commission S Y Qureshi
told reporters here at the end of last phase of staggered
polling.

Qureshi said EC is fully geared to ensure a peaceful and
fair counting of votes on November 24 and has appointed
independent observers for the purpose.

The sixth phase of polling in 26 Maoist-hit
constituencies today recorded 50.98 percent of turn out, which
was attributed to absence of fear, voter awareness campaigns
and scientific poll-management.

Qureshi said the Commission carried out air, water and
land surveillance to ensure security during polls and four
helicopters were also used for the purpose.

Election Commission had for the first time appointed
micro observers at around ten thousand polling booths of the
states for better monitoring of the polling exercise, he
added.

The CEC said it was the most peaceful election in Bihar
and EC successfully applied checks and balances on controlling
poll expenditure. A total of 25 incidents were reported in
which 18 were injured and two killed.

Most of these incidents were minor clashes between
supporters of different parties and EVM snatchings barring the
one in Gaya district today in which a Bihar Military Police
constable and a homeguard were killed while attempting to
defuse a land mine planted by Maoists, the CEC said.

Qureshi said though poll boycott was recorded at 38
booths in all the six phases of voting, they were mostly
protest against governance-related issues and and not due to
any security or adminisrative hassles.

He said the Commission paid special attention to checking
paid news and sent 87 notices to individuals, parties and
institutions for violations and deployed video surveillance
teams to monitor such content on television.

"The guidelines for expenditure monitoring were applied
for the first time in Bihar," he said adding the Commission
will do the same in future elections as the step has proved
successful in the state. Qureshi also expressed happiness that
no hate speech was made during the elections.

He said the Commission had also made arrangements for
live webcast of polling at 1700 booths.

The Chief Election Commissioner also congratulated people
of the state, political parties and security forces for
peaceful and successful conduct of polls in the state.

PTI