First phase of Bihar panchayat polls passes off peacefully
Webcast and biometric attendance in place to ensure fair elections
The first phase of Bihar panchayat elections passed off peacefully on Friday with webcast and biometric attendance of voters in place to maintain transparency and avoid bogus voting. The 11-phase panchayat polls is scheduled from September 24 to December 12 in the State with huge deployment of security personnel and officials.
The first phase of the poll for the three-tier panchayati raj institutions was held at 2,119 polling stations across 12 blocks of 10 districts and recorded 60% voter turnout. “The first phase passed off peacefully and voting was held in a free and fair manner. The voter turnout was also encouraging,” State Election Commissioner Deepak Prasad said.
When asked about violent incidents, he said, “Complaints of stray incidents of clashes, and other discrepancies were negligible”.
In the first phase, polling was conducted for 4,646 posts, for which 15,078 candidates were in the fray in 151 panchayats. Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) too were used for the first time in panchayat polls in the State along with ballot papers. Some reports from some places of EVMs not working had come but they were rectified immediately, Mr. Prasad said.
However, reports emerged from different parts of the dry State, about the seizure of huge consignments of illegal liquor bottles ahead of the panchayat polls. As many as 12,065 illegal liquor manufacturing units were destroyed in different districts while 5,46,143 litres of illicit liquor was seized in pre-poll checking drive by the police in the State. Besides, 362 illegal arms and 1,606 cartridges too were recovered from anti-socials in different parts of the State.
“Yes, liquor and money do play a major role in panchayat elections in Bihar, but this time it was unlike previous polls”, said Ankit Sharma of Jehanabad district where voter turnout on September 24 was 56.69%. When asked about issues dominant among voters this time, Sanket Mishra, a sexagenarian farmer of Rohtas district, told The Hindu over phone, “The dominant issues for us were corruption at local level and crime, along with the sale of illegal liquor in villages”.
Rohtas witnessed the maximum voter turnout (62.50%) in the first phase of the polls. Along with Rohtas and Jehanabad, polling was held in Kaimur, Aurangabad, Gaya, Nawada, Arwal, Banka, Munger and Jamui districts of the State.
According to an earlier notification announced by State Election Commissioner Deepak Prasad, the 11-phase panchayat election for more than 2.55 lakh representatives of the three-tier panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) will end on December 12 and votes will be counted on the following day of polling of each phase of the election during which about 6.39 crore electors are expected to vote.
There will be 8,072 mukhiyas, 1,13,307 panchayat members, 11,104 panchayat samiti members, 1,160 zila parishad members and other posts in the election this time. About 1 lakh polling personnel would be engaged along with nearly 90,000 security personnel. In the last phase of election on December 12, polling will be held in 38 blocks of 20 districts, the areas which were mostly affected by floods recently.