The first of the three-phase Bihar Assembly election in 71 constituencies across 16 districts ended peacefully on Wednesday, amid reports of clashes between supporters of two parties in Shahpur, Kaimur and Gaya, and electronic voting machines (EVM) not working properly in some places.
According to the Election Commission’s (EC) Voter Turnout App, the provisional polling was 54.26% that was updated till 10 p.m. IST on October 28. Nearly 2.15 crore eligible voters exercised their franchise, marginally lower than in 2015.
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The second phase of polling for 94 seats will be held on November 3, while the third one will be on November 7 for 78 seats. Counting of votes will be done on November 10.
Here are the latest updates:
53.54% turnout at 6 p.m.
The first phase of Bihar Assembly election has seen a voter turnout of 53.54%, according to data available at 6 p.m. Of the 243 constituencies in the State, a total of 71 Assembly segments went to the polls in the first phase.
89 violations of COVID-19 related norms registered under IPC, NDMA: Deputy Election Commissioner Ashish Kundra
Deputy Election Commissioner Ashish Kundra says 450 complaints of model code of conduct violation were filed through C-Vigil app. This number is a bit low due to less digital penetration in Bihar.
DEC Chandra Bhushan says 89 violations of COVID-19 related norms were registered under IPC and NDMA in phase one.
Approximately 50,000 senior citizens and persons with disabilities voted from home out of 4 lakh such eligible voters. Exact number will be shared by CEO Bihar.
— Damini Nath
EVM deployment was a challange due to pandemic: Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain
Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain says there was a challenge when it came to EVM deployment due to the pandemic. Only 0.22% of ballot units and 0.25% control units had to be replaced.
Polling time was extended in 12 polling stations due to longer time taken for replacement.
— Damini Nath
2.14 crore electors in first phase, more than 85000 postal ballots cast: Deputy Election Commissioner in-charge of Bihar
Deputy Election Commissioner in-charge of Bihar Chandra Bhushan says there were 2.14 crore electors in the first phase. 85,368 postal ballots have been cast. This was the first general election during the pandemic in the country. Elaborate arrangements had been made for this. All electors went through thermal screening. All voters wore masks, he says.
Bio-medical waste was collected as per protocols at the polling places, he says. More than 1.31 lakh polling staff was deployed. Polling time extended till 7p.m. for 12 polling stations in Jamui.
Seizures of ₹46.11 crore made in Bihar and ₹10 crore in phase one constituencies.
— Damini Nath
"People voted in a disciplined manner": Chief Election Commisioner
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora says he was not supposed to address the briefing but this election is different. Turnout till 5 pm was 52%. Voting is still on, he says.
We saw the way people voted in a disciplined manner, he says. EC secretary general Umesh Sinha says it is very encouraging that despite the pandemic that the turnout is expected to be more than the last Assembly elections and Lok Sabha elections.
Polling process is still on in some areas, he says. Few stray incidents of EVM, VVPAT malfunctioning took place and they were replaced. EVM and VVPAT failures have been minimal this time.
— Damini Nath
51.91% turnout till 5 p.m.
The first phase of Bihar Assembly election has seen a voter turnout of 51.91%, according to data available till 5 p.m. Voting has closed at 6 pm in 71 constituencies, which went to polls in the first phase.
46.29% turnout till 3 p.m.
Over 46% voter turnout has been recorded till 3 p.m., the Election Commission said in its provisional data.
As per the provisional voter turnout data updated by the Election Commission at 3 p.m., 46.29% of the total electorate have exercised their franchise. The 71 constituencies are spread across 16 districts.
The maximum 49.84% turnout has been recorded in Lakhisarai, followed by Buxar (48.91%), Kaimur (49.26%), Banka (47.44%), Patna (45.77%) and Bhagalpur (45.51%) among others.
Voter turnout at 33% till 1 p.m.
The first phase of Bihar Assembly election has seen a voter turnout of 33%, according to data available till 1 p.m.
The voters included Union Minister and senior BJP leader Giriraj Singh and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi. While Mr. Singh cast his vote at a polling booth in Lakhisarai, Mr. Manjhi, who is also the president of Hindustani Awam Morchapresident, exercised his franchise at a booth in Gaya.
Bihar records 18.31% turnout till 11 am
Over 18.30% voter turnout has been recorded till 11 a.m. in the first phase of Bihar assembly polls on Wednesday, the Election Commission said in its provisional data.
The maximum 26.76% turnout has been recorded in Lakhisarai, followed by Nawada (23.42%) and Banka (22.58%).
Among other districts, Buxar has recorded 19.10% turnout, Gaya 19.02%, Aurangabad 18.46%, Sheikhpura 17.31%, Kaimur (Bhabua) 16.98% and Bhojpur 16.21%.
Munger recorded a turnout of 15.71%, Rohtas 15.32%, Arwal 14.81%, Jamui 13.91%, Jehanabad 11.39%, Bhagalpur 6.84% and Patna 5.96%. - PTI
FIR to be filed against BJP candidate
Gaya District Magistrate has directed the police to file an FIR against BJP candidate Prem Kumar for violating model code of conduct. Mr. Kumar was seen at the polling booth wearing a mask with the party’s poll symbol.
Mr. Kumar, the BJP candidate from Gaya Town, is a Minister of Agriculture in the Nitish Kumar Cabinet.
Gaya Senior Superintendent of Police Rajeev Mishra confirmed that an FIR will be lodged against the Minister.
Reacting to the issue, Mr. Kumar said that the act was not "intentional."
"I couldn’t throw attention on it as I was busy... and it was not part of a campaign," he told local journalists in Gaya.
ECI issues EVM replacement report
As reports of EVM failure trickled in, the Election Commission of India issued a statement on the replacements made to the voting equipments.
"In 31,371 polling stations in phase one in Bihar, 41,689 ballot units, 31,371 control units and 31,371 VVPATs have been deployed. Out of these, replacement as per 10 a.m. report has been 0.18% ballot units, 0.26% control units, and 0.53% VVPATs," said an EC spokesperson.
Brief confusion over Minister's son's name missing from voter's list
Industries Minister Jagadish Shettar, and his brother and MLC Pradeep Shettar exercised their franchise at a poling station at Fathima School in Hubballi.
The minister's son Sankalp, however, could not vote as his name was not in the voters' list. BJP leaders said that while Sankalp's name was in the additional list given to the candidate, this list had not been sent to the polling stations.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of Dharwad and Assistant Returning Officer Nitesh Patil told The Hindu that there was some confusion among them as the party workers were carrying the old list instead of the updated list given to the candidates.
"We have given the updated and correct list to the polling staff and a copy of the same has been given to the candidates," he clarified. - Girish Pattanashetti
Voting begins for four legislative council seats in Karnataka
On the day Bihar votes, Karnataka is also voting to select its MLC candidates.
The MLC polls are taking place for Karnataka South-East Graduates, Karnataka West Graduates’, Karnataka North-East Teachers’ and Bangalore Teachers’ constituencies, which fell vacant due to the retirement of R. Chowda Reddy Thoopalli, S.V. Sankanur, Sharanappa Mattur and Puttanna respectively.
Forty candidates are trying their luck in the elections. Among them are the four whose retirement on June 30 warranted the elections.
The polling began at 8 a.m. and would conclude at 5 p.m. The counting of votes will be held on November 2.
COVID-related safety guidelines in place
Guidelines have been issued by the Commission for safe conduct of the electoral exercise in the midst of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
These guidelines include lowering the maximum number of voters for a polling booth from 1,600 to 1,000, staggering the polling hours and extending postal ballot facility to those above 80.
Besides, sanitisation of electronic voting machines, wearing of masks and other protective gear by polling personnel and the availability of thermal scanner, hand sanitiser, soap and water has also to be ensured at polling stations.
Jungle Raj, Babu Raj and now what, ask voters
A common refrain in the northern belt of Bihar is the lack of ‘vikalp’ or option the voter is looking for a change but does not know where to go. People say the ‘jungle raj’ has been replaced by a ‘babu raj’ (bureaucrats’ rule), and muscle power replaced by money power.
People point out how roads last only a season, prohibition that is only on paper, about vapour street lamps that were promised but not delivered, about schools that have buildings but no teachers, about graduates who are lazying around the village without any viable employment. The list is long and urgent. Equally strong is the refrain for a change and the lament that there is no option.
Unemployment, migration among main issues
A total of 1,066 candidates are in the fray and polling is under way at 31,371 polling booths. The total electorate is 2,14,84,787, with 1,13,51,754 men, 1,01,32,434 women and 599 third gender voters in this phase.
The smallest constituency in this phase is Barbigha in Sheikhpura district, while the largest is Hisua in Nawada district.
Unemployment, migration, corruption at lower levels of bureaucracy and prohibition are among the main issues. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led NDA is pitted against the RJD-led mahagathbandhan in what will be a close contest. An anti-incumbency mood against Mr. Kumar is strong across the State.
Till 9 a.m., turnout in the State has been 2.5%. Poll personnel and voters are following COVID-19 guidelines while exercising their franchise. Leaders across party lines too have requested voters to follow COVID-19 guidelines during polling.
Leaders urge people to vote
Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested voters to follow COVID-19 guidelines while excercising their right to vote.
"I urge all voters to ensure their participation in this festival of democracy taking all COVID-19 related precautions. Keep ‘do gaj ki doori’ (maintain a distance of two yards,) and wear mask mandatorily. Voting first, breakfast later," he wrote on Twitter.
As the polling began, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi urged people to cast their votes in favour of the Mahagathbandhan for "justice, employment and farmers-workers."
"This time for justice, employment, farmers-workers, your vote should be only for 'Mahagathbandhan' (grand alliance)," Mr. Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.
"Good wishes to all of you on the first phase of Bihar elections," he tweeted with the hashtag in Hindi 'Aaj Badlega Bihar.
RJD leader and Mahagathbandhan’s chief ministerial candidate Tejashwi Yadav urged people to vote for a better future, education, health, jobs and development for Bihar.
(With inputs from PTI)