The Election Commission made 91-year-old Nageshwari Devi’s day by inviting her to vote at her booth, Purshottampur High School, on Wednesday.
Despite the wrinkles, one could not miss a gleam on her face as the nonagenarian reached the booth — 1.5km from her home in Purshottampur village of Kudhani block — ferried on a wooden cot by her grandsons. Nageshwari said: “My grandsons agreed to ferry me to the booth.” She was particulary happy about the invite. The district election officer-cum-district magistrate Anupam Kumar had invited her to vote, an exercise to increase voter turnout.
Voters braved the 39°C heat and came out in large numbers. The administration had arranged drinking water, shades and toilets at all 110 booths.
Going by the voter buzz, the fight was between the Congress’ Akhilesh Prasad Singh and the BJP’s Ajay Kumar Nishad. RJD leader Riyaz Ahmad said the Congress-RJD candidate had an edge. BJP leader Mukesh Kumar agreed it was a Congress vs BJP fight. The JD(U) is nowhere in the race, said BJP leader K.P. Pappu. But Wasiul Haque Rizwi, a supporter of JD(U) candidate Vijendra Choudhary, said it would be a triangular contest.
Elections were progressing peacefully but for sporadic incidents. Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Ranjit Kumar Mishra said policemen opened fire in the air to disperse a mob outside booth number 24 in Kokilwara village of Aurai block. During a surprise check, district magistrate Anupam Kumar caught Congress agent Jamil Akhtar with campaign material at the Abeda High School booth. He was later arrested. RJD leader Harendra Kumar complained that the presiding officer of booth number 40 and 41 at Jagannath Mishra College dragged out voters carrying voter slips and not identity cards.