Although the turnout in the seven north-eastern Bihar seats on Thursday was higher than that in the last elections, it fell short of expectations created by the much talked about pre-poll ‘wave’ and the perceived ‘polarisation’ along religious lines.
EC figures show a 59.43% turnout at the end of polling at 6.00pm in the region known as Bihar’s Muslim hub. This, EC sources said, was 7.21% higher than the votes polled in 2009.
This phase had been seen as a test for what the BJP called a wave triggered by its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in Bihar in the face of reports of Muslim vote mobilisation against BJP nominees.
The highest percentage of polling (64%), however, was recorded in Kishanganj and Katihar, both constituencies on Bihar’s border with West Bengal and close to Bangladesh. In Kishanganj, where Muslims constitute almost 70% of the population, sitting Congress MP Maulana Asrarul Haque Kasmi is in direct contest with the BJP’s Dilip Jaiswal.
Katihar witnessed a tough fight between Union minister of state for agriculture Tariq Anwar and sitting BJP MP Nikhil Choudhary. The percentage picked up from 42% at 2.00pm to end at 64%.
With today’s third phase voting in the state, elections have been completed for 20 out of the total 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. Another seven seats are set to go to the polls in the next phase on April 30.