55% voting in 2nd round of Bihar polls as people brave Maoist threat

  • Avinash Kumar, Hindustan Times, Patna
  • Updated: Oct 16, 2015 20:00 IST
Women wait in queue to cast their vote during the second phase of Bihar assembly elections at Gaya on Friday. (PTI)

Defying the Maoist threat, nearly 55% voters exercised their franchise during the second phase of polling for 32 of 243 assembly constituencies in Bihar on Friday. The first phase on October 12 had recorded 57%.

Friday’s turnout in these 32 seats was 3% more than the 52.03% recorded in 2010.

Women once again outnumbered their male counterparts when it came to voting with 57.50% of them casting their votes as against 52.50 % males.

Kaimur, one of the Naxal-hit districts recorded the maximum turnout of 57.86% followed by Jehanabad (56.49%), Gaya (55.54%), Rohtas (54.66), Arwal (53.21) and Aurangabad (52.5%).

Although 14 of the 32 constituencies involved in the second of the five-phase balloting are known to be Maoist hubs, the polling was largely peaceful, officials said. Bihar police chief PK Thakur told media that polling was peaceful barring minor clashes between rivals.

A middle-aged voter and a CRPF jawan died of heart attack at polling booths in Rafiganj and Imamganj Assembly constituencies respectively. The Election Commission has announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the CRPF man identified as Harendra Singh of Bhind, Madhya Pradesh.

Officials said voters at 13 polling booths in Aurangabad, Kaimur, Jehanabad and Arwal boycotted polls and shouted slogans against lack of development.

A team of flying squad seized Rs 2.50 crore, said chief election officer Ajay V Nayak.

Officials said the enthusiasm to vote was more among women, emboldened by the security blanket in constituencies that had been notorious for deterring voters. The eagerness was underscored by a 95-year-old woman who made it to a polling booth in Sasaram constituency on the back of her son.

The security forces, who kept a strict vigil to keep troublemakers away, recovered two IEDs from two places in Gaya district. In all, 993 companies of paramilitary forces were deployed for this phase, assisted by five helicopters and several drones.

The second phase sealed the fate of NDA’s dalit icon and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who is contesting from Imamganj constituency against assembly speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary of JD(U). Manjhi is also contesting from Makhdumpur in Jehanabad district.

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