Patna: Defying Maoist threats, millions voted on Friday in the second round of Bihar’s staggered assembly elections that has pitted a BJP-led combine against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD-U and allies.
RJD head Lalu Prasad Yadav addressing an election rally at Chiraiya in east Champaran district of Bihar on Saturday. Pic/PTI
Although 23 of the 32 constituencies involved in the second of the five-phase balloting are known to be Maoist hubs, the polling was largely peaceful, officials here said. As many as 456 candidates were in the fray on Friday in the districts of Gaya, the birthplace of Buddhism, Aurangabad, Jehanabad, Arwal, Kaimur and Rohtas, which saw some horrific caste massacres in the 1980s and 1990s.
Over 50 per cent of the 8.58 million eligible electorate on Friday had voted by 3 pm, the Election Commission said. Additional Chief Electoral Officer R Lakshaman said that the polling was slow initially but picked up later. According to him, women again voted in large numbers.
As the day progressed, the queues outside polling booths turned serpentine, reports from various constituencies said. The main contenders for power in Bihar are the Grand Alliance of the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and its allies, the RJD and the Congress as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led four-party coalition.
The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist had vowed to disrupt the elections. With most of the 8,849 polling booths in rural areas, officials in charge of security had their fingers crossed.
Also, with women voters outnumbering male voters in the first two of the five-phase Bihar assembly polls, they have emerged as a prominent vote bank. Chief Electoral Officer Ajay V Nayak said 57.50 per cent of the women voted against 52.50 per cent male voters.