Patna (Bihar): Voting for the phase-1 of Bihar Assembly elections began at 7 am on Wednesday and the voter turnout has been recorded at 18.31 per cent till 11.30 am.
As the day proceeds, the voter turnout has seen an increase from the mere 5 per cent recorded till 8 am.
The districts that are witnessing higher voter turnout include Lakhisarai with 26.28 per cent and Nawada with 23.87 per cent till 11.20 am, as per the Election Commission of India.
Patna with 5.96 per cent along with Bhagalpur with 6.84 per cent has recorded the lowest voter turnout till now.
Bihar is witnessing a triangular contest with the ruling JDU-BJP alliance and grand alliance (RJD, Congress and others) and Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), which is eying the role of a kingmaker in case of a hung Assembly. Elections will decide if Nitish Kumar will win a fourth term as Chief Minister.
Voting began in 71 constituencies spread across 16 districts in the first phase of the Bihar Assembly elections on Wednesday at 7 am.
This is the first election that is being held amid COVID-19 pandemic.
The Election Commission has extended the period of voting by one hour until 6 pm, except in the Naxal affected areas, so that COVID-19 patients can vote in the last hour of the day. Results of the 3-phase Bihar election will be announced on November 10.
The Election Commission has issued detailed guidelines that include lowering the cap on voters for a polling booth from 1,600 to 1,000, staggering of polling hours and postal ballot facility for those aged above 80 or those infected.
All precautionary measures have been taken considering the COVID-19 pandemic as Electronic Voting Machines have been sanitised. Thermal scanners, hand sanitiser, soap and water have been made available for voters. Officials deployed on polling duties in Gaya were seen wearing masks and gloves. Temperature of voters was measured at polling stations before they cast their vote.
Meanwhile, voting at polling booth no. 170 in Jehanabad got delayed after a glitch was detected in the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).
On the other hand, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans were seen helping differently-abled and elderly voters at Booth number 10 in the Chakarbandha area.
Sanitization work was also carried out at various booths including booth number 56 and 57 in Munger and in Gaya in view of COVID-19. People queue up at the polling booth while maintaining social distancing at the polling stations.
As many as 1,066 candidates are in the fray including 42 from Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), 35 from Janata Dal (United), 29 from BJP, 21 from Congress and 8 from Left parties.
On one side is the NDA which includes JD-U (contesting 115 seats), BJP (110 seats), Vikassheel Insaan Party (11 seats) and Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (7 seats).
Mahagathbandhan which picked Tejashwi Yadav as chief ministerial candidate constitutes RJD (144 seats) and the Congress with 70 seats. Other alliance partners include the CPI-ML (19 seats), CPI (6 seats), and the CPIM (4 seats).
LJP is contesting 136 seats on its own and fielded candidates against all JD-U nominees and only a few against BJP.
Polling for the second phase to take place on November 3 and for the third phase on November 7. The counting of votes will be done on November 10. (ANI)