Prevention is better than cure in Yadav heartland

PTI | ByRuchir Kumar and Vijay Swaroop, Madhepura
May 06, 2004 01:39 PM IST

Heavy deployment of Central forces and proactive election observers prevented a repeat of Chapra in Madhepura.

May I Help you?: A party worker 'helping' a woman cast her vote at a Madhepura booth

The presiding officer of booth number 66 at Sripur village, two polling officers and six homeguard jawans were arrested on Wednesday on charges of rigging and bogus voting in the Madhepura constituency.

Sporadic exchange of fire, booth-grabbing, violence and intimidation of voters were also reported from several areas in the constituency, from where RJD president Laloo Prasad Yadav and Union minister Sharad Yadav of the JD (U) faced each other in a tough contest.

The polling personnel were arrested after election observer KJ Alphonse found that 397 votes had been cast, though only 226 voters were registered at the booth.

Five persons were reportedly injured in a firing incident outside a polling booth at Vailar in the Madhepura assembly segment, where voters had turned out in large numbers to exercise their franchise. District magistrate-cum-returning officer Chaitanya Prasad, however, denied the incident.

People of Matahi Chowk blocked the Madhepura-Saharsa road as voting was allegedly allowed to continue beyond 6 pm at booth number 47. Similar complaints were received from booth nos. 33 and 34. However, the returning officer (RO) defended the decision, saying, “If a voter comes in the queue before 5 pm, he has the right to exercise his franchise.”

Voters at a Kohapati booth, also in Madhepura assembly segment, pelted stones and chased away minister of state for industries Rajendra Prasad Yadav when he tried to intimidate them.

The CPMF personnel reportedly asked another minister in the Rabri Devi cabinet, Ravindra Charan Yadav, to leave the booth at Kishunganj when he was seen intimidating voters there. The CPMF personnel also smashed the beacon fitted on his official car, as he was not supposed to use it on the polling day. The district administration, however, did not confirm the incident.

The news of the alleged involvement of Subhash Yadav, RJD MLC and brother of chief minister Rabri Devi, in the kidnapping of two poll agents from booth number 89 in Kishunganj, sent the district administration in a tizzy. After inquiry, the SP found the allegations to be false.

Heavy deployment of forces and proactive election observers prevented a repeat of Chapra in Madhepura.

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