Battle for Bihar: Moderate voting in first phase

PATNA: Moderate voting was reported in the first phase of Bihar assembly elections where polling began on Thursday morning in 47 constituencies across the Kosi-Seemanchal and Mithilanchal belts.Official sources said an estimated 8 to 10 per cent of the voters exercised their franchise in the 47 constituencies spread over eight districts till 9 am amidst strict security measures. In a first in Bihar, the constituencies in the first phase have placed under air surveillance for which the Election Commission has requisitioned “adequate number” of Indian Air Force choppers.On the ground, state DGP Neelmani said on Wednesday, “85% of the 10,868 booths will be guarded by Central forces.”Enthusiasm among voters was noticed at most of the booths in Madhubani, Madhepura, Supaul, Kishanganj, Katihar, Purnia, Araria and Saharsa districts where many elderly women queued up in large numbers even before voting began at 7 am, PTI added.Initially, problems in EVMs were reported from a number of booths in Supaul, Saharsa and Madhepura, but they were promptly attended to and polling continued without any disturbance, it was reported.A presiding officer was reported to have died of cardiac arrest at a booth at Pranpur in Katihar district before polling. A replacement was sent and and polling continued at the booth as per schedule.

Around 1.07 crore voters in the region are eligible to decide the fate of 631 candidates in the first lot of the 243 assembly constituencies, most of them in rural areas.The fate of 631 candidates is to be decided in the first phase. These include the wives of two dons, Anand Mohan and Pappu Yadav, behind bars, convicted in separate murder cases. Ranjit Ranjan, wife of former MP Pappu, will take on agriculture minister Renu Kushwaha from Bihariganj while Lovely Anand, wife of another former MP Mohan, will fight against revenue and land reforms minister Narendra Narayan Yadav at Alamnagar. While the ministers belong to JD-U, the two women are Congress candidates.

The eight districts going to the polls are Kishanganj, Araria, Purnia, Madhepura, Saharsa, Katihar, Supaul and Mithilanchal.So far, political bigwigs like UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, PM Manmohan Singh, AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, BJP leader LK Advani, BJP president Nitin Gadkari, and his predecessors M Venkaiah Naidu and Rajnath Singh, as well as UP chief minister Mayawati have campaigned in the state.One of the highlights of electioneering was a war of words between Manmohan and Nitish, with the CM urging the PM to “give concrete evidence” of charges against him to get them investigated. Nitish also invited Singh for a debate over whether Bihar has progressed during his five-year rule or not – Timeofindia