Bihar saw a voter turnout of 32.48% by 12pm on seven Lok Sabha constituencies on Wednesday in the fourth phase of elections that are crucial for the three major political formations led by the BJP, RJD and the ruling JD(U).
With the high-pitch campaigns by BJP's prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi, RJD chief Lalu Prasad, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, the battle lines have been drawn.
The Muslim-Yadav combination of RJD president Lalu Prasad and extremely backward castes -mahadalit combination of chief minister Nitish Kumar would be put to test in round four.The elections would also be a litmus test for the Narendra Modi factor in north Bihar.
A total of 32.48% polling was recorded at Madhepura constituency where JD(U) President Sharad Yadav is in the fray.
Madhubani saw 31% voting while in Jhanjharpur it was 30%, Darbhanga 31%, Samastipur 28%, Begusarai 36% and Khagaria 34.59% till 12pm, Election Commission statement said here.
Voting is being held under tight security arrangements.
Voters turnout was low in the morning and expected to pick up with the progress of the day.
Some elderly citizens were first to cast votes. An elderly woman travelled to a polling booth on crutches to exercise her franchise.
Prominent candidates in the fray are JD(U)'s Sharad Yadav, RJD's Rajesh Ranjan (alias Pappu Yadav), former Union minister and BJP leader Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav, cricketer-turned-BJP leader Kirti Azad, and former Union minister and RJD leader MAA Fatimi, among others.
In Madhepura, JD(U) president and seven-time MP Sharad Yadav is facing a stiff challenge from RJD's Pappu Yadav and BJP's Vijay Singh Kushwaha.
Yadav has won four terms from Madhepura, the home district of BP Mandal, who was the architect of the Mandal Commission report ensuring reservation for backward castes.
He has also won twice from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh and once from Badaun seat in Uttar Pradesh.
The fourth phase will decide the fate of 94 candidates, including five women. Around 11.2 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise at 10,521 polling stations.
Altogether 59,000 security personnel including 145 companies of central forces, will be deployed for ensuring smooth elections.
Along with the Lok Sabha elections, the by-poll held in Sahebpur Kamal assembly seat in Begusarai district saw 31% turnout till noon.
The re-poll was necessary after the resignation of former minister Parveen Amanullah from the Nitish Kumar cabinet just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
She has contested the Patna Sahib seat as an AAP candidate.
Twenty of the 40 seats in Bihar have already gone to polls. After the seven in round four, elections in the remaining 13 constituencies will be held over the last two phases on May 7 and 12.
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Full Coverage: My India My VoteHere's a map for the constituencies going to polls on Wednesday. On searching, you will get details of all parties fighting from a constituency and key candidates there:
Lok Sabha polls phase five: Key candidates