New Delhi/Patna, November 7
Over 55 per cent voter turnout was registered in phase three of the Bihar assembly elections on Saturday with the Election Commission noting that the figures are likely to go up later in the evening.
Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar, who is in charge of Bihar, told reporters in the evening that 55.22 per cent turnout has been registered.
He said the figures are likely to increase later tonight with the voting process nearing conclusion.
Polling was held in 78 assembly segments of Bihar in the third and final phase of the state elections on Saturday in which 2.35 crore voters were eligible to decide the fate of 1,204 candidates.
Casting of votes began at 7 am at all 33,782 polling stations where as many EVM sets and VVPAT machines were installed and paramilitary forces deployed to maintain order, officials said.
While the polling was peaceful, police had to open fire in the air in Purnia to disburse a crowd trying to disturb voting, even as people boycotted voting at 12 booths in Katihar in protest against barriers not being set up at two railway crossings.
In Araria, RJD candidate from Jokihat seat, Sarfaraz Alam, turned up for voting with a party badge pinned in his shirt which may invite charges of violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
Araria District Magistrate Prashant Kumar said the matter had come to his knowledge and lawful action would be initiated in the candidate.
Alam is the elder son of former Union Minister Mohammad Taslimuddin and is pitted against younger brother Mohammad Sahnawaz, who is in the fray from Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM party.
In Purnia, the police had to fire in air to chase away people trying to disturb voting outside a booth under Dhamdaha Assembly segment.
Voting is being held simultaneously in the Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat, where a by-poll has been necessitated due to the death of JD(U) MP Baidyanath Mahto.
In Madhepura district’s Bihariganj, veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadav’s daughter Subhashini Yadav made her poll debut.
Subhashini stood in a queue to cast her vote at a polling booth in Madhepura.
After casting her vote, the 30-year-old said her father, who represented Madhepura multiple times in Lok Sabha, had worked honestly for development of the constituency and that is why he was respected by people of all religions and castes.
Plurals Party president Pushpam Priya Choudhary, who is also her party’s chief ministerial candidate, cast her vote with her mother in a booth at Darbhanga.
Speaker of the outgoing Assembly Vijay Kumar Chaudhary and about one dozen ministers of the Nitish Kumar cabinet are in fray in this round of voting.
Minister Suresh Sharma cast his vote in Muzaffarpur.
The coronavirus pandemic failed to dampen the voters’ enthusiasm as several elderly and differently-abled electors, some assisted by their kin, some by security personnel and some others by volunteers, came out to vote in large numbers.
The Election Commission has set up multiple model polling centres. A polling station in Saharsa has been beautifully decorated. The poll panel has also set up selfie points for people to click themselves after casting their votes.
Some wheelchair-bound voters were also facilitated to cast the ballot.
However, COVID-19 guidelines were being violated at several polling booths
A PTI reporter found violations of coronavirus guidelines at many polling booths he visited in Samastipur with people not wearing masks and flouting distancing norms.
Meanwhile, people at 12 booths under Kusail panchayat in Kadwa Assembly constituency of Katihar are boycotting the polls in protest against barriers not being installed in nearby Minapur and Jhaua railway crossings.
Block Development Officer Mohammad Iftar and other senior officials reached the area to persuade people to vote.
The first phase of voting for the 243-strong Assembly took place on October 28 and the second phase on November 3.
The votes will be counted on November 10. PTI