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Bihar Polls - 2nd Phase: Millions vote despite Maoist threats

Thursday, October 21, 2010 10:43:34 PM, IANS

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Patna: Around five million defied Maoist threats Sunday to vote in 45 constituencies in the second round of Bihar assembly elections, despite two attacks by the guerrillas.

To elect a 243-seat assembly, an estimated 52.55 percent of the 9.8 million electorate eligible to vote Sunday exercised their franchise by 5 p.m. when the voting ended, officials said.

Additional Director General of Police P.K. Thakur told IANS here that but for minor clashes, there was no trouble during the polls. "It passed off peacefully," he said.

More than 60 troublemakers were arrested to ensure a peaceful ballot. The efforts paid off but Maoists did make their presence felt -- violently.

They tried to disrupt polling in two places in Runni Saidpur constituency of Sitamarhi district.

The rebels abducted four polling officials but released them within an hour, police said. The Maoists also tried to ransack another polling booth and burn documents in the same area, police said.

There were "minor clashes" between supporters of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and its ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the one hand and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of former chief minister Lalu Prasad, authorities said.

In some places, the electronic voting machines broke down, delaying the elections.

Right from the start, long queues of men and women formed outside most polling stations in Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Samastipur, Motihari, Sheohar and Sitamarhi districts that saw balloting Sunday.

"The voting began at 7 a.m. amid tight security and passed off peacefully. It is a big relief," Bihar police chief Neelmani said.

According to reports, voters in over a dozen villages boycotted the elections and shouted slogans, saying they would not vote because of lack of development in their areas.

The central paramilitary forces manned 85 percent of the polling booths. The Special Task Force used helicopters for air surveillance.

The second phase of voting decided the fate of 623 candidates. Most of the 9,952 polling booths were in rural areas.

The stakes were high for Nitish Kumar as well as Lalu Prasad and his ally, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Ram Vilas Paswan.

The Congress, fighting the election on its own, is eying to make its presence felt in the Tirhut-Mithilanchal belt, otherwise a known RJD-LJP bastion.

The first round of Bihar elections took place Oct 21. Four more rounds of polling will take place Oct 28, Nov 1, 9 and 20. Votes will be counted Nov 24. In the first phase, balloting took place in 47 assembly seats.

 

 

 

 


 

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