Patna: Voters, many of them women, queued up at polling booths in Bihar hours before the start of the third phase of assembly election on Wednesday and exercised their franchise in huge numbers, an official said. Around 6 percent of the 14.5 million voters eligible to cast their ballot had voted in the first one hour hour, the official said.
"Voters stood in long queues outside polling booths under the shadow of the high tech central paramilitary security forces to cast their ballot," an official of the chief electoral office here said. No incident of violence has been so far reported in the 50 constituencies, including 23 Maoist-affected, officials said.
However, Bihar police chief P.K. Thakur told the media that there were instances of minor clashes between rivals. At some places, the electronic voting machines malfunctioned. Apart from that, it was a smooth exercise in a state notorious for election violence.
Polling began at 7 a.m. in 50 of the 243 constituencies, spread across six districts namely Patna, Saran, Vaishali, Nalanda, Bhojpur and Buxar, officials said. Officials said that voters in over a dozen villages in Patna, Vaishali, Bhojpur, Saran and Nalanda boycotted polls and shouted slogans against the lack of development.
Two helicopters, drones and 667 companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed for the polls, Additional Chief Electoral Officer R. Lakshmanan said. The Election Commission has cut down polling hours in the sensitive areas till 4 p.m.
According to the Association for Democratic Reforms and the National Election Watch, 215 candidates in the third round face serious criminal charges including those of murder. The staggered elections to pick a 243-member Bihar assembly will end on November 5. The result will be revealed three days later.