About 53.32% voters –- 3% more than in 2010 -– exercised their franchise in 50 assembly constituencies in the third phase of Bihar elections on Wednesday, with both the NDA and the Grand Alliance claiming substantial victory.
Since morning, a large number of people stood in queues at polling stations to cast their ballots. Some areas witnessed moderate to heavy turnout of voters while the response was initially lukewarm in the urban areas. The turnout of Muslim voters was substantial in all the six districts.
There were 808 candidates, including 71 women, in this phase.
Additional chief electoral officer R Lakshmanan said around 53.32% turnout was reported in the third phase till 5 pm. The 50 seats were spread across Saran, Vaishali, Nalanda, Patna, Bhojpur and Buxar districts.
With this keenly-fought phase, polling has been completed in 131 of the 243 assembly seats in the state. A clear lead in this phase would decide the overall poll prospects of both NDA and GA to a large extent.
The stakes are higher for the JD(U) and RJD in phase three, as they had together won 30 of the 50 seats in 2010. The BJP had won on 20 seats while the Congress drew a blank. The BJP fielded candidates in 34 seats and the RJD in 25 seats this time.
No major violence was reported in the 50 constituencies, including 23 Maoist-affected constituencies. “There were instances of minor clashes between rivals,” Bihar police chief PK Thakur said.
Several stalwarts, including opposition leader Nand Kishore Yadav, deputy assembly speaker Amarendra Pratap Singh, ministers Brishen Paten, Shravan Kumar and Shyam Rajak, and former union minister Akhilesh Prasad Singh, contested in the third phase of polls. But the focus is on RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s sons Tej Pratap and Tejashwi Yadav.
According to the Election Commission, Buxar district recorded the highest turnout of 56.58% while Patna recorded the lowest of 51.82%.
There were reports of EVM malfunctioning at a few places in Digha, Masaurhi, Mahnar, Buxar. Voters in more than a dozen villages in Patna, Vaishali, Bhojpur, Saran and Nalanda boycotted polls.
Full coverage: Battle for Bihar