With Maoist violence casting a shadow on the Bihar polls, the state administration has decided to deploy central paramilitary forces in Maoist-affected polling stations in 45 constituencies going to the polls in the second phase on Sunday.
This follows Friday’s attack in which the Maoists killed six policemen in Bihar’s Sheohar district by triggering a landmine blast.
The Election Commission has changed the poll timing in some constituencies following the Sheohar attack, as the Maoists have given a poll boycott call. Polling in Sheohar and Belsand constituencies will be held between 7 am and 3 pm.
Director general of police Neelmani said patrolling on the ground and air surveillance had been intensified.
“We are leaving nothing to chance. Central paramilitary forces will be deployed at all critical and Naxal-hit polling stations in Sheohar, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur and East Champaran,” he said. “In Sheohar, nearly 96 per cent polling stations will be manned by central forces.”
Neelmani said despite a Union home ministry alert about a likely rebel assault during elections, there was no specific information prior to the Sheohar attack. Security forces have sealed the Indo-Nepal border at some places.
Chief electoral officer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh said around 44,000 poll personnel will take part in the exercise on Sunday.
Around 9.8 million voters are eligible to vote at 10,315 polling stations to determine the fate of 623 candidates.
The Congress and the BSP are contesting all the seats in the second phase. The ruling JD(U) is contesting in 28, with its ally BJP contesting in 17.
The RJD is in the fray in 34 constituencies, while LJP is contesting from 11 seats.
Some big names whose fate will be decided in the second phase include state RJD chief Abdul Bari Siddiqui, his JD(U) counterpart Vijay Kumar Choudhary, and ministers Ramnath Thakur and Shahid Ali Khan.