Patna, April 17: The state recorded the highest ever turnout at 54.14 per cent in the seven Lok Sabha constituencies that went to the polls today.
The death of a minor boy at Berna village in the Munger parliamentary constituency in a firing between the supporters of former MP Surajbhan Singh and Mokama MLA Anant Singh and the alleged vandalism by the RJD’s Pataliputra candidate, Misa Bharti, in a polling booth, marred the otherwise peaceful poll fest that recorded an average 14 per cent increase in voting ( ). The pro- and anti-Narendra Modi supporters interpreted the average 14 per cent increase in the turnout compared to the 2009 Lok Sabha polls in their own ways. The anti-Modi camps attributed it to aggressive voting by the Muslim-Yadav combine to stop Modi. The BJP claimed the high turnout was the fallout of Modi wave.
Moderate to high turnout marked the polling in the fifth and the biggest round of Lok Sabha elections covering 121 seats across 12 states, including Bihar, amid Maoist violence in Jharkhand where rebels injured four CRPF jawans, blew up a railway track and exploded bombs. Some disturbances were reported from Bengal also, where former footballer Bhaichung Bhutia is trying his luck in the Darjeeling constituency as a Trinamul Congress candidate.
Bihar’s chief electoral officer Ajay V. Naik said an average 54.04 per cent polling was reported from Munger, Nalanda, Patna Sahib, Pataliputra, Ara, Buxar and Jehanabad constituencies. Buxar recorded the highest 57 per cent voter turnout, while the lowest voting was reported from Patna Sahib and Pataliputra constituencies — 52 per cent. “There has been an increase of around 14 per cent in voter turn out in the second phase of the ongoing parliamentary election in the state,” Naik said.
During the 2009 general election, the polling percentage stood at merely 39.66 per cent. “The voter awareness campaign launched by the commission played an important role in drawing the electorate to the booths. The increase in the voter turn out is a good sign and we hope the polling percentage would go up in the next phases,” Naik said.
The state electoral office received complaints about disruption of polls from 16 places because of technical snag in EVMs. “The reports of the presiding officers and poll observers are awaited. Once their reports are received, they would be sent to the Election Commission of India, which would finally decided on re-poll in those booths,” Naik said.
He said polling at booth No. 65, 71, 76 and 77 under Jamalpur Assembly segment of Munger Lok Sabha constituency was suspended because of security reasons. Similarly, voters boycotted elections on four polling booths at Harnaut, Biharsharif and Rajgir under Nalanda, one polling booth at Maner under Patna Sahib, and one polling booth each at Lakhisarai and Suryagarha under Munger constituency.
Thursday elections would decide the fate of 117 candidates in fray in the seven Lok Sabha seats. Prominent among them are film stars Shatrughan Sinha of the BJP and Kunal Singh of the RJD, former minister Parveen Amanullah of AAP, former Union home secretary R.K. Singh (BJP), former minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey (BJP), Jagdanand Singh of the RJD, Misa (daughter of Lalu Prasad) of the RJD and Ram Kripal Yadav of the BJP.
For the first time, the electorate experienced the VVPAT system introduced by the election commission in the Patna Sahib Lok Sabha constituency. In all, 1,746 polling booths were equipped with the facility. “Though there have been complaints of non-functioning of the system at a few places, the system proved beneficial for the electorate,” Naik said.
Altogether seven general poll observers were deployed to monitor the poll. Reports available at the state election office said that in all 221 EVMs were replaced after receiving complaints from the electorate.
In all, 99 people were arrested on the charge of attempting to vitiate the poll process. The police detained former MP Surajbhan Singh at Mokama. His wife Veena Devi is contesting from the Munger Lok Sabha constituency as an LJP candidate. The movement of the JD(U) MLA from Mokama, Anant Kumar Singh, was also restricted.