| A voter gets her finger inked at a booth in Laukaha Assembly constituency on Wednesday. Picture by Ravi Bhaskar |
Laukaha (Madhubani), Nov. 30: Fifty-five per cent voters today exercised franchise at 264 polling stations for the Laukaha Assembly seat bypoll that passed off peacefully under tight security arrangements. Polling began at 8am and continued till 5pm.
The bypoll was necessitated by the untimely demise of former state panchayati raj minister Hari Prasad Sah in New Delhi last September. Sah had won this seat on a Samata Party ticket in 2000 and subsequently on JD(U) tickets in 2005 and 2010.
Votes will be counted at RK College in Madhubani from 8am on December 4. The fates of 13 candidates, including four belonging to different parties and nine Independents, are closed in electronic voting machines.
“Around 55 per cent voting has been recorded, which exceeds past trends. It even appears that slightly more number of women have cast votes than earlier but the exact figure is yet to come,” district magistrate and collector Sanjeev Hans told The Telegraph.
He added: “A JD(S) polling agent claimed that the EVM at Chandanpatti polling station number 229 displayed that 100 votes had already been polled. When I asked sector 9 magistrate Sanjiv Kumar Sinha to verify the matter, he found that the polling agent at 8am had assumed by mistake that the mock polling count of 100 represented actual votes polled. The magistrate found 72 votes cast at 9am.”
A source in the state election commission said: “The district administration has deployed paramilitary forces at all 264 polling stations, including 248 main and 16 auxiliary polling stations across the constituency, for 2,62,375 voters. All polling booths were marked sensitive and security arrangements had been made accordingly.”
The source added: “As many as 35 villages under different blocks of the constituency used to be under threat in past elections. Considering that, paramilitary forces had been deployed to keep constant vigil, particularly over the polling stations under these villages, to ensure free and fair election.”
RJD has pitched Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, the principal of Janata College of Laukaha, as its candidate for the bypoll. The beleaguered Ahmed was in Congress just a day before the nomination paper was filed. He had already fought elections in the past on Congress tickets for the Laukaha Assembly seat and had come third by scoring 24,000 votes.
On the other hand, JD(U) fielded its candidate, Satish Kumar Sah, the son of former minister Hari Prasad Sah. The junior Sah had no claim to fame other than his father’s credibility and being chief minister Nitish Kumar’s candidate of choice.