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Record turnout in peaceful elections

Patna, April 30: People came out to vote in large numbers today in the seven parliamentary seats in the Mithilanchal and Kosi region.

The state election department claimed that the elections for Madhubani, Jhanjharpur, Darbhanga, Samastipur (SC) in the Mithilanchal region and Begusarai, Khagaria and Madhepura constituencies in the Kosi belt passed off peacefully amid tight security arrangements. No untoward incident was reported from anywhere.

Besides Bihar, six states and two Union Territories went to the polls today. Electorate of total 89 Lok Sabha constituencies exercised their franchise.

On an average, 58 per cent polling was recorded in the seven parliamentary constituencies, an increase of about 13 per cent from the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. The state chief electoral officer, Ajay V. Naik, said the fourth phase recorded a huge voter turnout at all the polling booths. Till 6pm, when the polling came to an end, around 57.74 per cent voters had cast their votes.

The Election Commission received more than 30 complaints of rigging but they were found to be untrue. Reports of poll boycott from eight polling booths — four from Jhanjharpur, three from Samastipur and one from Begusarai — were received.

Additional director-general (headquarters) Ravinder Kumar said 122 people were detained on the charge of creating disturbances at different polling stations. Dipak Kumar, the state secretary of the JD(U)’s farmers’ cell, was arrested with two others in Begusarai. An Independent candidate, Krishna Paswan, was arrested on the charge of intimidating voters in the Darbhanga parliamentary constituency. A vehicle of BJP nominee from Darbhanga Kirti Azad was also seized.

Fate of 94 candidates were sealed in EVMs today. Stakes were high in this phase for the JD(U), which had won five of the seven seats in 2009. The rest were with the BJP.

Reports from the ground suggested that the BJP was confident of winning Madhepura, where JD(U) president Sharad Yadav is battling Pappu Yadav of the RJD and Vijay Kushwaha of the BJP. A BJP source said the barometer seat would be Darbhanga, where former cricketer Kirti is in the fray. “If we win Darbhanga, we will win Madhubani as well. There will be no stopping us then,” the source said.