| Voters queue outside a polling booth in Vaishali on Thursday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
It was a festival of sorts. Enthusiastic voters from 18 to 80 turned up at the polling stations to cast their franchise.
“Gali gali mein baja do Nitish ka nagada aur dikha do Lalu ko sopara.... (beat the trumpet in favour of Nitish in lanes and bylanes and finish Lalu),” octogenarian Nunu Devi was heard telling her grandson Ankit outside a polling booth at Govindpur Devi Gaura village under Patepur Assembly constituency in Vaishali district on Thursday.
Nunu, along with her daughter-in-law Kumkum Devi, had come to cast her vote at polling station No. 58 around 10.30am. After casting her vote, she did not forget to remind her son, Rajendra Singh, an army deserter, to use his franchise. Everybody in the queue waiting for their turn was taken aback by Nunu’s enthusiasm.
“When a woman like Nunu, who is at the fag end of her life, can cover a distance of about half-a-kilometre to go to the polling station to cast her vote, why can’t others?” Asked Bhola Prasad Singh (60), waiting for his turn in another serpentine queue. Everyone was surprised over an impressive turnout of the voters, particularly women belonging to the extremely backward sections.
The scene at the Government Middle School near Davaichh Chowk was little different. A middle-aged woman, was pleading before the presiding officer to allow her daughter in-law to cast her vote. The presiding officer, however, expressed his helplessness.
Some voters complained of deletion of their names at polling stations at Mandayee Dih, Bahuara, Musahari Tola and Bajidpur.
Ganesh Kumar of Dhankaul village said he had come to his native village to participate in the mahaparva (election) from New Delhi. “I am casting my vote for the first time after 2000 Assembly polls,” said Kumar.
A few voters, however, missed the opportunity to cast their votes unaware of rescheduled polling hours at the Maoist-hit Patepur Assembly constituency from 7am to 3pm instead of up to 5pm.
The polling hours were re-scheduled in the wake of poll boycott call given by the Maoists. Mahendra Baitha of the BJP, Prema Choudhary of the RJD and Babita Devi of the Congress are the main contestants in the constituency. Prema is the sitting MLA.