Fifty seven percent polling was recorded in the first phase of the Bihar assembly elections on Monday.
“Samastipur recorded 60 percent polling, Begusarai recorded 59 percent, Khagariya 61 percent, Bhagalpur 56 percent, Banka 58 percent, Munger 55 percent, Lakhisarai 54 percent, Sheikhpura 55 percent, Nawada 53percent and Jamui 57 percent,” Umesh Sinha, Deputy Election Commissioner told a press conference here.
“In this phase more then 6,000 vulnerable locations were identified. The observers were asked to visit every vulnerable location for the confidence building measure. Intimidators were identified and many preventive actions were taken. More then 10,000 NBWs were executed. Cash seizure was more then Rs 2.5 crore in this phase. More then 53,000 litres of liquors were seized. There was also two cases of paid news during this phase,” Sinha added.
A large number of people lined up at booths since early morning to cast their vote amidst reports of malfunctioning EVMs from several parts of the state. Polling was sealed off in the naxal affected Surajgarha and Jamui Districts at 3 p.m. today.
According to reports, polling was by and large peaceful.
Over 1.35 crore voters will decide the electoral fortune of 583 candidates, including 54 women in this phase.
Elaborated security arrangements were made to ensure free and fair polling. More than 1,20,000 para military jawans were deployed, besides the Bihar Police personnel. Every polling station was manned by the Central Para Military Force.
Further, drones were also used by security forces for air surveillance for the first time in the state’s electoral history.
In the run-up to the first phase, Bihar has seen high-voltage campaigns by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, spearheading the campaign for the National Democratic Alliance, though former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha patron Jitan Ram Manjhi and Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and president of the Lok Janshakti Party Ram Vilas Paswan have also been heard occasionally.
On the other hand, incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav are leading the campaign for the Grand Alliance, and are occasionally supported by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
However, issues such as development, unemployment, industrial backwardness, corruption, growing crime graph, drinking water problem, poor roads and erratic electricity supply, poor educational infrastructure, migration of students for higher education, neglect of rural areas, etc, are major poll planks used by various parties to garner voters’ support.
The first phase is important for the JD (U), as out of the 49 seats, it had won 29 in the 2010 elections, while its alliance partner BJP had won 13, and the RJD four.
However, the circumstances are different this time, the 2015 Bihar polls is largely considered as a personality clash of two political stalwarts – Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This also becomes increasingly clear from the BJP’s not announcing the name of its chief ministerial candidate.