Darbhanga voters beat the heat to cast their votes on Wednesday.
There were long queues in nearly all booths. By evening two major rival parties claimed victory. “We have already won the seat. It’s time to celebrate,” Darbhanga’s BJP MLA Sanjay Sarogi said. He added that the district administration floated false news about BJP candidate Kirti Azad being arrested. RJD leaders, too, claimed victory. The only party that did not claim victory was the JD(U), which had fielded Sanjay Jha. “The JD(U) did not get the votes it had expected,” said an RJD candidate.
Prof V.S. Jha, teacher at a local college, said it was a two-way electoral battle. “It might prove to be a neck-to-neck battle between the RJD and the BJP,” he said.
The BJP’s former-cricketer candidate faces a strong anti-incumbency wave. “Azad always forgets Darbhanga once he wins. But we still voted for him because we want Narendra Modi to form the government,” said Sanjay Karn, who owns a shop in the Laheriasarai clock tower region. Most Muslim-Yadav residents came out strongly in favour of RJD candidate MAA Fatmi. “Compared to Kirti Azad, Fatmi Saheb is much more accessible. He comes here frequently,” said Ramdev Yadav, teacher at a primary school in Darbhanga.
The fate of 15 candidates in the fray at Darbhanga, about 175km northeast of Patna, was sealed in the EVMs. Though the big fight was between Azad and Fatmi, the presence of JD(U) candidate Sanjay Jha and AAP candidate Dr Prabhat Ranjan Das made it even more interesting.
Darbhanga constituency has 1,494,896 voters and poll turnout was recorded at 56.5 per cent.
Voters boycotted poll at Nadiami village of Kusheshwar Asthan in Samastipur. “The percentage of male or female voters has not been prepared yet. It would take time,” district public relations officer Manoj Kumar said. Urdu Bazaar resident Prahalad Kumar Kilu said: “Women voters outnumbered men. We also found Muslim women voters more eager to vote than the others. Many votes were cast before 11am. Hardly a voter turned up between 11am and 4pm.”