Patna: A total 53.54 per cent voters exercised their franchise as polling was conducted peacefully on Wednesday in 71 assembly constituencies in Bihar for the first phase of assembly elections.
H.R. Srinivas, Chief electoral officer of Bihar said elections for the first phase were held across 16 districts including the four Naxal-affected districts of Gaya, Aurangabad, Lakhisarai and Shekhpura.
“The polling was conducted in Naxal-affected constituencies till 4 pm and 37 constituencies till 6 PM. We have allowed voters to cast their votes beyond 6 pm as they entered the polling premises. We have also extended time for some of the booths where polling was started late due to technical errors in EVM and VVPATs,” added Srinivas.
Srinivas pointed out that the polling percentage was almost similar to 2015 when the turnout was 54.57 per cent.
An official of the state Election Commission said that the first phase of polling was peaceful, with no major untoward incident reported from anywhere so far.
In the first phase of elections, 53.54 per cent voters exercised their franchise. The voter turnout was 59.57 per cent in Banka, 54.2 per cent in Bhagalpur, 47.36 in Munger, 55.44 in Lakhisarai, 55.96 per cent in Sheikhpura, 52.51 per cent in Patna and 48.29 per cent in Bhojpur.
In addition, 54.07 per cent people exercised their franchise in Buxar, 56.20 per cent in Kaimur, 49.59 per cent in Rohtas, 53.85 per cent in Arwal, 53.93 per cent in Jahanabad, 52.85 per cent in Aurangabad, 57.05 per cent in Gaya, 52.34 per cent in Nawada and 57.41 per cent in Jamui.
In the first phase, polling was held in 71 assembly constituencies spread over 16 districts of the state. According to the state election commission, 31,371 polling booths were set up for 2.14 crore voters In the first phase, 1066 candidates including 114 women are in the fray.
According to the Commission, EVMs were initially reported to have malfunctioned in several polling booths, but the glitch was later corrected. Paramilitary forces were deployed at all polling booths for the first phase of polling and special preparations were made for the corona.
Due to security and logistical reasons, polling was held in some areas till 3 pm and in some areas till 4 pm while 36 seats were held till 6 pm.
In the first phase, international shooter Shreyasi Singh from Jamui, contesting on a BJP ticket, was one of the prominent faces in the electoral fray. Other prominent candidates include BJP’s Prem Kumar, former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, Krishnandan Prasad Verma, Jai Kumar Singh, Ramnarayan Mandal, Vijay Kumar Sinha and Brij Kishore Bind, among other ministers.
Out of these 71 seats, the RJD has 25 seats while the JD(U) has 23 seats. In addition, the BJP has 13 and the Congress eight.
In Bihar, elections are being held in three phases for 243 assembly seats. Counting of votes will be held on 10th November.