| A student arrives to vote at Magadh Mahila College on Tuesday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Satyaveer Singh is popular among the students at Magadh Mahila College, mostly for his dashing looks and debonair sense of fashion.
The vice-presidential candidate backed by the JD(U) students’ wing was, however, tense as he walked into the girls’ college on Tuesday morning. “Suna hain Pragya Raj Shiva accha kar rahi hain (I heard that Pragya Raj Shiva is doing well),” he said. Shiva is a presidential candidate backed by the rival NCP.
Rumours and gossip did the rounds of the polling centres — Magadh Mahila College, Patna College, Patna Women’s College and BN College — as students of Patna University took part in the democratic process of electing their representatives after 28 years.
Students were seen coming in groups of twos and threes to cast their ballot. Waiting to greet them were the candidates and their supporters. Some seemed nervous; others were brimming with confidence.
ABVP-backed presidential candidate Ashish Sinha looked cool and confident in dark shades. “I know the students love me,” he quipped.
The eagerness to vote was, however, not enough to prevent skirmishes between different groups. At BN College, rumours were rife that one group had been trying to bribe voters.
“There was a clash between supporters of two candidates. The police had to intervene to stop the fight,” said a voter.
At Magadh Mahila College, too, a large group of students rushed towards the polling stations on hearing rumours of rigging. Their charge, however, was intercepted by city superintendent of police Jayant Kant, deputy superintendent of police (town) Manoj Kumar Tiwary and Gandhi Maidan police station house officer Raj Bindu Prasad.
“It was nothing serious,” said Kant, laughing.
But he kept doing the rounds of the campuses. So did PU vice-chancellor Shambhu Nath Singh as well as the candidates and their supporters.
By the time the polling came to a close around 2pm, the crowd had grown strong, especially at Magadh Mahila, which is also the counting centre.