Polling began on Saturday morning in 26 of the 243 assembly constituencies in Bihar in the sixth and final phase of elections, amidst a poll boycott call by Maoists.
An electorate of over 60 lakh will be eligible to vote for 426 candidates. Prominent candidates in fray include Speaker and JD-U leader Uday Narayan Choudhary (Imamganj), BJP minister Awadhesh Narayan Singh (Dehri), JD-U ministers Chhedi Paswan (Mohania) and Anil Kumar (Tekari).
Polling is being held in the Maoist-affected constituencies between 7.00 am and 3.00 pm, while in the rest of the seats it will be held between 7.00 am and 5.00 pm.
Around 35,000 security personnel and four helicopters have been deployed as part of unprecedented security arrangements for the elections, Director General of Police Neelmani said.
Four BSF helicopters, including an MI-17 and a Dhruv, are keeping air surveillance in Gaya, Aurangabad, Rohtas, Buxar and Kaimur districts with Special Task Force commandos on board, he said.
The 26 constituencies are spread over Rohtas, Aurangabad, Buxar, Kaimur and Gaya districts of which 18 have been declared as Maoist-hit.
There is 100 per cent deployment of central para military forces in five Maoist-hit constituencies in Gaya and six in Aurangabad district and between 90 and 95 per cent elsewhere, Neelmani said.
The remaining five to 10 per cent booths are covered by armed police, he said.
Since polling is taking place in the areas which have a record of Maoist violence, police is extra vigilant this
time, Neelmani said.
JD-U is contesting from 16 seats and its ally BJP in 10, RJD in 22 and alliance partner LJP four.
The Congress and BSP have put up candidates in all the 26 constituencies, while NCP is contesting from 17 seats, CPI
from seven seats and its electoral ally CPI-M from two.