Voting underway peacefully in Bihar (Lead)

Patna, April 23 (Inditop) Slow but peaceful voting was underway for the second phase of parliamentary elections in 13 of the 40 constituencies in Bihar Thursday.

There are several heavyweights, including six central ministers, a filmmaker and a former cricket player, in the fray. An electorate of 16.9 million will decide the fate of 189 candidates, including nine women.

Aditional General of Police (headquarters) Neelmani said no untoward incident was reported from anywhere during the first three hours of polling which began at 7 a.m. amid high security.

According to state election officials, polling was slow in the initial hours but was expected to pick up. “After 9 a.m. long queues of voters were seen at various polling centres,” an official said.

In all there are 17,130 polling station for the second phase of elections.

All eyes are on the six central ministers testing the electoral waters – Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief and Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) Raghuvansh Prasad Singh from Vaishali, M.A.A. Fatmi from Darbhanga, Akhilesh Prasad Singh from East Champaran, Raghunath Jha from Valmiki Nagar and Congress’ Shakil Ahmad from Madhubani.

Filmmaker Prakash Jha of the LJP is fighting a tough battle against the Congress’ Sadhu Yadav, brother-in-law of RJD chief Lalu Prasad. Former cricket player Kirti Azad of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying his luck against Fatmi in Darbhanga.

Neelmani said that security has been beefed up as “seven out of 10 districts where balloting are being held have been identified as Maoist-affected”.

Of them, Sheohar, East Champaran, West Champaran and Badaha are considered Maoist strongholds.

Two air force helicopters have been deployed for surveillance and the border with Nepal has been sealed to check any attempts at cross-border violence.

The remaining two rounds of the polls will be held in Bihar April 30 and May 7. The first phase was held April 16 for 13 seats.