Fifth phase sees peaceful election in 38 constituencies

Despite curtailed timing and Naxal calls for a boycott, 50 per cent of the electorate voted in the fifth phase of the Bihar Assembly election held amid tight security on Tuesday. Polling was by and large peaceful.

State election officials said 49.84 per cent of the voters cast their ballots in the election held in 35 constituencies across eight districts. This was in keeping with the trend of a high voter turnout in the earlier phases.

The figure was a significant improvement over the 41.42 per cent recorded in the October 2005 Assembly election and 39.43 per cent in the 2009 general election.

Because of the Naxal threat, polling was held only till 3 p.m. in 14 constituencies, while in three constituencies in Nalanda and Gaya districts, the close of polling was brought forward by an hour, to 4 p.m.

The Naxal-affected districts that include 17 critically hit constituencies, recorded an impressive turnout, with Patna registering 52 per cent (against 37.85 per cent in the October 2005 Assembly election) and Gaya and Jehanabad districts recording 49 and 52 per cent.

Director-General of Police Neelmani said 269 people were detained as a preventive measure, 125 vehicles seized and four country-made pistols recovered.

A man was shot dead by unidentified assailants near a polling booth in Arwal district, but Mr. Neelmani said the incident was not related to the elections.

Official sources said Lok Jan Shakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan's son-in-law and party nominee, Mrinal Paswan, was detained, along with seven of his supporters, for allegedly creating disturbance at Rajgir in Nalanda district.

Nationalist Congress Party nominee for Jagdishpur Manoj Kumar Rai was arrested and cash in his possession seized in Bhojpur district, while the former Rashtriya Janata Dal Minister, Aditya Singh, was arrested for alleged irregularities at a booth in Nawada district.

Four persons were detained and Rs.1.55 lakh in cash was seized from their vehicle at Phulwari, while Janata Dal (United) and RJD activists clashed at Biharsharif in Nalanda.