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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Bihar registers 54.04% voter turnout

Ashok Mishra, Hindustan Times  Patna, April 16, 2014
First Published: 18:51 IST(16/4/2014) | Last Updated: 10:12 IST(18/4/2014)

Bihar saw 54.04% voter turnout in its seven Lok Sabha constituencies on Thursday with Jehanabad recording the highest turnout at 50% and Patna Sahib recording the lowest at 41%.

Elections held for Munger, Nalanda, Patna Sahib, Patliputra, Arrah, Buxar and Jehanabad seats registered 54.04 at the end of polling at 6pm, EC sources said.

It was 39.33% in the seats in 2009.

All the seven seats recorded above 50% voting with Buxar topping the list at 57%, while Patna Sahib and Patliputra registered 52% the sources said.

There were no reports of violence, but voters boycotted polls at booths 149, 170 and 232 of Islampur in Nalanda constituency in protest against power and water issues.

There were complaints that JD (U) MLA Anand Singh was intimidating voters, and he was confined inside a house at Barh in Munger Lok Sabha constituency on EC orders.

The heavyweights in this phase of voting include BJP's Shatrughan Sinha from Patna Sahib, BJP's Ram Kripal Yadav from Pataliputra, and RJD's Misa Bharti, daughter of party chief Lalu Prasad, from Pataliputra.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar cast his vote at a booth in Bakhtiarpur of Patna Sahib, while Lalu Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and daughter Misa cast their votes in Pataliputra constituency.

The BJP's sitting MP from Patna Sahib, Shatrughan Sinha, who is seeking re-election, cast his vote at a booth near his paternal home in Kadamkuan locality of Patna.

"There's unprecedented support for our 'dabangg' action hero Narendra Modi in Bihar," he said.

Security arrangements are tight as many seats fall in the Maoist belt. Chief secretary AK Sinha told reporters that a total of 42,600 security personnel would be deployed for smooth polling.

The first phase of polling in the state was held across six constituencies on April 10. Of the 40 seats in Bihar, the remaining 27 will go to polls in the last four phases.

For the second round of polling Bihar, the BJP has fielded four candidates – RK Singh (Arrah), Ashwini Choubey (Buxar), Shatrughan Sinha (Patna Sahib) and Ram Kripal Yadav (Pataliputra), who joined the saffron brigade after being denied a ticket by Lalu's RJD.

The BJP's allies Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Rashtriya Loktantrik Samata Party are contesting from Munger, Nalanda and Jehanabad seats. The BJP is believed to have the support of the upper castes, Vaishyas, Koeris and section of the extremely backward castes.

Meanwhile, the ruling JD (U) has high stakes in Nalanda and Munger. Nalanda is the home turf of chief minister Nitish Kumar, and has a strong presence of Kurmis.

The constituency promises a close fight among Nitish Kumar's hand-picked nominee Kaushalendra Kumar, the LJP's Satyanand Sharma and the RJD-backed Congress nominee and former Bihar police chief Ashish Ranjan Sinha.

In Munger, Nitish Kumar's friend and sitting MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh is seeking re-election. He faced a strong challenge from LJP nominee Veena Devi, wife of party strongman Surajbhan Singh.

The polling trend in Nalanda and Munger, where the upper-caste Bhumihars call the shots, will indicate whether people have endorsed Nitish Kumar's development agenda or accepted BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's development model.

It would also show whether Muslims, whom Nitish Kumar assiduously tried to woo after parting ways with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), would support him.

"We are set to defeat Nitish Kumar in his home constituency Nalanda," said Sushil Kumar Modi, BJP leader and former deputy chief minister. He and his wife cast their votes at St Joseph's school booth at Rajendra Nagar in Patna Sahib.

"The polling trend in the first phase gave a clear indication that people have gone beyond caste divides and voted for the BJP," he said.
"The NDA will take all 40 in Bihar, thank you."

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad in Patna added, "Be prepared for miraculous results in Bihar."

For the RJD, the second phase of polls is crucial because Lalu's daughter Misa is fighting from the Pataliputra seat against party rebel Ram Kripal Yadav. Lalu is banking on his traditional stronghold of Muslim-Yadav votes.

The party is also expecting favourable results in Buxar, where its Rajput leader Jagadanand Singh is seeking re-election, and in Jehanabad, where local strongman Surendra Prasad Yadav is in the fray.

(with inputs from PTI)

Full Coverage: My India My Vote

Here's a map of the constituencies going to polls on Thursday. On searching, you will get details of all parties fighting from a constituency and its key candidates:


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