Bihar voters cold, officials blame heat - Hindustan Times

Bihar voters cold, officials blame heat

By, Patna
Apr 19, 2024 09:28 PM IST

State recorded a provisional voting percentage of 48.23, a 5.24% dip from the previous 53.47% overall turnout in 2019 in the four seats — Aurangabad, Gaya (SC), Nawada and Jamui (SC) — that went to vote on Friday.

Bihar recorded a provisional voting percentage of 48.23, a 5.24% dip from the previous 53.47% overall turnout in 2019, in four seats — Aurangabad, Gaya (SC), Nawada and Jamui (SC) — of the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state that went to vote in the first phase of the general elections on Friday, poll officials said.

At a polling booth in Gaya on Friday. (HT photo)
At a polling booth in Gaya on Friday. (HT photo)

Poll officials blamed the poor voter turnout to heat and warm easterly winds, but said they would analyse the reasons to further to improve the turnout in the remaining six phases of elections in the state.

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“Gaya recorded the highest 52% voter turnout, followed by Aurangabad and Jamui at 50% each and Nawada the lowest at 41.50%, with an overall polling percentage of 48.23%,” H R Srinivasa, Bihar’s chief electoral officer (CEO), said at a press conference after the polling.

Gaya had topped in 2019 as well with a voter turnout of 56.16%, followed by Jamui 55.21%, Aurangabad 53.63% and Nawada 49.33%.

Voters boycotted polls at seven polling booths, of which four polling booths (number 97, 65, 42 and 43) were in Aurangabad and two (8 and 137) in Nawada, over development issues, said Srinivasa.

“An insignificant numbers of voters, less than 10 in each booth, turned up to vote at all the seven polling booths, where voters boycotted polls over different development issues,” said Srinivasa.

Voting was slow since morning in all four constituencies. There were also reports of alleged poll boycott at booth number 258 in Kharagpur village of Jamui constituency in Munger district. No voter had turned up there till 12 noon, prompting the chief electoral officer, Bihar, to direct the district administration to send a team of officials to enquire into the reason behind the lack of voting there. Locals alleged that the booth was at least 20-25 kms away from the nearest village its voters were enrolled.

Similarly, voting was slow at booth number 97 at Nehuta village under Mufassil police station of Aurangabad, as only three of the 944 voters enrolled there had exercised their franchise till noon.

There were also allegations of bogus voting at booth number 238 in Nawada where a woman complained to polling officials that her vote had been cast before she came to exercise her franchise.

As many as 38 people were held, with a maximum 13 arrests in Nawada, seven in Sheikhpura, five each in Aurangabad and Gaya and four each in Jamui and Munger, on the polling day for various violations of the model code of conduct, even as polling passed off peacefully, said Jitendra Singh Gangwar, additional director general of police.

Polling, which began at 7am, culminated at 4pm in 15 of the total 24 assembly segments in the four parliamentary constituencies across six districts of Bihar that were Naxal affected.

A police constable, posted at booth number 234 in Rajo Bigha village in Nawada constituency, lost his rifle under Pakdibarawan police station area, said Gangwar. A case had been registered with the police and the constable concerned suspended for dereliction of duty, he said.

Among the key candidates whose fate was sealed in the electoral voting machines (EVMs) are former Bihar chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi, who is contesting the Gaya seat against Kumar Sarvajeet, an engineer and a former state agriculture and tourism minister of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, a part of the mahagathbandhan or the Grand Alliance.

The HAM(S) is a constituent of the BJP-led NDA. Manjhi had unsuccessfully contested the Gaya seat in the last two Lok Sabha polls.

BJP’s three-time MP Sushil Kumar Singh is contesting the Aurangabad seat against Abhay Kushwaha of the RJD.

Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Thakur, son of former Union health minister Dr CP Thakur, is making his debut in the Lok Sabha elections from Nawada, where he is pitted against Shravan Kumar Kushwaha.

Arun Bharti, brother-in-law of Chirag Paswan, leader of the LJP (RV) and son of the late former Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, is testing political waters in Jamui, where Chirag had won on LJP ticket twice in 2014 and 2019.

A total 38 candidates were in fray in the first phase. The NDA had won all the four seats in 2019.

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    Ruchir writes on health, aviation, power and myriad other issues. An ex-TOI, he has worked both on Desk and in reporting. He over 25 years of broadcast and print journalism experience in Assam, Jharkhand & Bihar.

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