Bihar elections proceed peacefully (Second Lead)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

PATNA - The first phase of the Bihar assembly elections that began Thursday morning in 47 constituencies in eight districts in the state’s flood prone belts proceeded peacefully except for reports of the electronic voting machines malfunctioning in some places.

In the first three hours of polling till 10 a.m., 12-14 percent turnout was recorded, state election officials said as the crucial elections got under way in the Kosi-Seemanchal and Mithilanchal belts.

Voters were seen queuing up outside the polling booths, and officials said the polling should pick up as the day progressed.

About 10.6 million voters in the region are eligible to decide the fate of 635 candidates in the first lot of the 243 assembly constituencies, most of them in rural areas.

The polling is taking place in 10,868 centres, more than what was announced earlier.

The eight districts going to the polls are Kishanganj, Araria, Purnia, Madhepura, Saharsa, Katihar, Supaul and Madhubani.

Polling, which began at 7 a.m., is scheduled to go on till 5 p.m, except in two constituencies where it will close at 3 p.m.

According to Bihar police chief Neelmani, central paramilitary forces are guarding 85 percent of the booths and officials of the Special Task Force are keeping air surveillance from helicopters.

The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has 37 of the 47 seats. At stake is not just the future of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, but also the political reputations of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan.

The Congress, which is fighting all seats on its own, will also be looking to break in.

After Oct 21, the next rounds in the elections will be held on Oct 24 and 28, and Nov 1, 9 and 20. Votes will be counted on Nov 24.

Filed under: Politics

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