Under COVID shadow, phase-2 of Bihar polls passes off peacefully, turnout 54.64%

Bihar elections: 19.26% polling till noon, Nitish, Tejashwi cast votes

Patna: The second phase of polling on 94 seats in the Bihar assembly elections passed off peacefully Tuesday with a voter turnout of over 54.64 per cent, marginally lower than the 2015 figure, as COVID-19 failed to dampen the democratic spirit of citizens.

The second round of the voting was held in the 17 districts amid tight security and strict coronavirus guidelines in place.

The voting percentage at 10:30 pm was 54.64, according to the Election Commissions Voter Turnout Apps provisionally data.

The polling percentage is likely to go up as the poll panel updates the figure with more inputs from these constituencies.

The voting percentage in the respective seats in the 2015 polls was 56.17, according to Election Commission figures.

Prominent personalities including Governor Phagu Chauhan, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Tejashwi Yadav, Shatrughan Sinha and LJP president Chirag Paswan cast votes in their respective polling booths. Among districts, Muzaffarpur (59.98) recorded the maximum voting percentage, followed by West Champaran (59.69), while state capital Patna recorded the minimum turnout at 48.24 per cent.

The maximum voting percentage among constituencies was recorded in West Champarans Chanpatia (63.62), followed by Samastipurs Ujiarpur (62.2).

According to Election Commission data, the three constituencies with the lowest voting percentage - Kumhrar (36.4), Bankipur (35.9), Digha (34.5) - are all in Patna.

However, the state capitals another urban constituency, Patna Sahib, recorded a voting percentage of 50.6.

According to the Election Commission, more than 2.85 crore voters were eligible to decide the electoral fate of 1,463 candidates - 1316 male, 146 female and one transgender.

Besides, the opposition Grand Alliance chief ministerial candidate Tejashwi Yadav from Raghopur seat, his elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav (Hasanpur) was also in the fray in this phase alongside four state ministers - BJPs Nand Kishore Yadav (Patna Sahib) and Rana Randhir Singh (Madhuban), and JDUs Shrawan Kumar (Nalanda) Ramsevak Singh (Hathua).

Also in the fray was Chandrika Roy (JDU), the father of Tej Pratap Yadav's estranged wife Aishwarya Rai, from Parsa.

The Election Commission had set up a total of 41,362 booths at 18,823 polling stations.

The poll panel said that 375 Control Units, 333 Ballot Units and 647 VVPAT machines were changed during mock poll. As many as 152 Control Units, 219 Ballot Units and 540 VVPAT were changed later.

"The polls passed peacefully," the poll panel said.

The poll panel said that out of 18,223 buildings that housed polling booths, 986 were in naxal-affected areas and that sixty-two people were taken in preventive custody.

The poll panel had set up 634 model polling centres.

Polling began at 7 am, but the time for its conclusion was extended by one hour till 6 pm to facilitate COVID-19 patients and those with symptoms of the disease to exercise their franchise during the final hour.

In the last hour of voting, some people were seen casting their votes in PPE kits at a polling centre in Begusarai.

Voting ended at 4 pm in eight seats - Gaura Bauram and Kusheshwar Asthan in Darbhanga district; Minapur, Paroo and Sahebganj in Muzaffarpur; Alauli and Beldour in Khagaria; and Raghopur in Vaishali either because of their naxal history or reverine settings.

Among the major parties, the RJD had fielded its candidates on 56 of the 94 seats, while its ally Congress contested 24. The CPI and CPI(M), which joined the Grand Alliance recently, fought on four seats each.

BJP candidates were in the fray on 46 of the seats, while its ally JDU had fielded 43. Mukesh Sahnis VIP, the latest entrant in the NDA, was contesting the remaining five.

The LJP was contesting 52 seats, including the two it had won in 2015 contesting as an NDA constituent. The party had fielded one transgender candidate too in this phase.

Maharajganj constituency had the maximum 27 candidates in this phase, while the minimum four were from Darauli constituency (SC).

Among the districts Muzaffarpur, (59.98) recorded the maximum voting percentage, followed by West Champaran (59.69), Begusarai (58.82), Samastipur (58.09), East Champaran (56.75), Sitamarhi (57.40) Khagaria (56.10), Sheohar (56.04), Vaishali (55.90), Gopalganj (55.09), Bhagalpur (54.85), Madhubani, (54.72) Darbhanga (54.15), Saran (54.15), Siwan (51.88) Nalanda (51.06) and Patna (48.24).

Meanwhile, 34-year-old Sashastra Seema Bal jawan Shailesh Kumar Singh was killed after he was run over by an unidentified vehicle while on his way to attend election duty in East Champaran district, police said.

Also, 55-year-old BSF Sub Inspector K R Bhai, who was on duty at a polling booth in the Lalganj assembly seat, died of heart attack, police and hospital sources said.

In Khagaria district, a 106 year-old woman cast her vote at her booth in Rampur village under Parbatta constituency.

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