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Bihar Poll: 54 PC Turnout In Peaceful First Phase

Amid tight security, an estimated 54.31 per cent of the 1.07 crore voters on Thursday exercised their franchise in the first phase of the Bihar assembly polls in 47 of the 243 seats.Describing the voting
PTI October 22, 2010 14:17 IST
PTI

Amid tight security, an estimated 54.31 per cent of the 1.07 crore voters on Thursday exercised their franchise in the first phase of the Bihar assembly polls in 47 of the 243 seats.

Describing the voting as absolutely peaceful, Director General of Police Neelmani said 150 persons were arrested for indulging in electoral malpractices and trying to disturb polling.

The DIG and commissioner of Purnia division along with Special Task Force commandos carried out aerial patrol in two helicopters during polling.

While 85 per cent of booths were manned by central paramilitary forces and armed police from other states, the rest were guarded by the Bihar Military Police.

The state's borders with Nepal and West Bengal were sealed. State Chief Electoral Officer S K Rakesh said voters were in queue at two booths in Rupauli and Dhamda constituencies in Purnia district even after the end of polling. This could raise the overall turnout by one per cent, he said.

Briefing mediapersons in Delhi, Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi said barring some stray cases, no untoward incident was reported.

"There was no incident of booth capturing," he said adding people boycotted polling in 10 booths protesting "lack of developmental and local issues."

Zutshi said police registered a case against a Janata Dal-United candidate for allegedly manhandling a poll official while Socialist Janata Party candidate Alumiddin Ansari was arrested for trying to enter a polling booth at Bayasi in Purnia district where he was not supposed to go.

According to the state chief electoral officer, both Katihar and Kishengunj recorded the highest polling percentage of 57.5, followed by Purnia 55, Araria 52 per cent and Madhepura 51.

An official report from Madhepura district said below poverty line card holders and local people pelted stones at two booths, but they were pacified by authorities who allowed them to cast their ballots.

A bomb exploded outside a booth at Laukha in Madhubani district, but there was no injury, police sources said.

For the first time, the Election Commission introduced live webcast at 169 booths and the entire polling process was videographed, while there were special ramps and braille-EVMs for physically and visually challenged voters.

Initially, problems in EVMs were reported from a number of booths in Supaul, Kishanganj, Araria, Katihar, Saharsa and Madhepura districts, but they were promptly attended to and polling was held, the sources said.

Cardiac arrest claimed the lives of two poll personnel in Pranpur in Katihar and in Jhanjharpur. The presiding officer at Chhathapur in Supaul district was beaten up allegedly by ruling JD-U supporters, the sources said.

Five security personnel were injured when a tractor trolley overturned at Phulparas in Madhubani district. Polling concluded in Naxal-hit Sirmri Bakhtiarpur constituency in Saharsa district an hour before schedule. State Congress chief Mehboob Ali Kaiser is pitted against JD-U in a straight fight. PTI