55.45 percent polling in 6th phase of Lok Sabha elections in Bihar

Patna, May 25 (UNI) An estimated 55.45 percent of the voters exercised their franchise till 6 PM amid foolproof security arrangements during the sixth phase of Lok Sabha elections covering eight seats in Bihar on Saturday.

Polling started at 7 AM is all the booths and continued till 6 PM, barring 54 booths where polling was held till 4 PM due to security reasons and other factors. The Election Commission had decided to reduce polling duration at these booths after consulting all stakeholders including representatives of political parties.

Star candidates whose fates were sealed in EVMs during the penultimate round of the seven-phased phased Lok Sabha elections in Bihar are former Union Ministers Radha Mohan Singh, M A A Fatmi, former Speaker of Bihar Legislative Assembly Awadh Bihari Chaudhary and former president of Bihar unit of BJP Dr Sanjay Jaiswal. Seats where polling was held, are East Champaran, West Champaran, Valmiki Nagar, Sheohar, Siwan, Vaishali, Gopalganj and Maharajganj.

Bihar Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) H R Srinivas said 55.45 percent of polling was recorded during the day which passed off peacefully and no untoward incident was reported from anywhere during the elections.

Srinivas said that 58.47 percent polling was recorded in all these eight seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, which meant polling percentage witnessed a fall of nearly 3 percent this year.

A total of 61,800 security forces and 20,800 homeguards were deployed to ensure free and fair elections. Strict vigil was also maintained by jawans who conducted patrolling in motor boats in rivers to check the movement of anti-social elements in riverine areas.

NDA had bagged all eight seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, with the BJP bagging four seats, and the JD(U) and LJP winning three seats and one seat respectively/ The opposition INDIA bloc, then contesting as Grand Alliance, had drawn a blank.

In all eight seats, this time there was a straight fight between NDA and INDIA bloc candidates.

In East Champaran, BJP fielded former Union Minister Radha Mohan Singh who is a sitting party MP from here. He had won thrice consecutively from this seat since 2009. He was facing a challenge from VIP candidate Rajesh Kumar Kushwaha. Similarly, sitting BJP MP Dr Sanjay Jaiswal was pitted against Madan Mohan Tiwary of Congress in the West Champaran seat. Jaiswal was president of the Bihar unit of BJP before Samrat Chaudhary replaced him. Chaudhary is also Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar.

In Valmiki Nagar, sitting JD(U) MP Sunil Kushwaha was facing a challenge from RJD candidate Deepak Yadav. Kushwaha had won the by-election from this seat after the death of his father Baidyanath Prasad Mahto who had won on the JD(U) ticket in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In Sheohar, JD(U) candidate Lovely Anand was contesting against Ritu Jaiswal. Lovely is wife the wife of Anand Mohan Singh, a former MP who was convicted in the murder case of Gopalganj DM G Krishnayia in the nineties. He was released from jail last year.

JD(U) had fielded Vijaya Laxmi in the Siwan Lok Sabha seat replacing its sitting MP Kavita Singh. RJD fielded Awadh Bihari Chaudhary, who was the Assembly Speaker during the Grand Alliance government.

In Vaishali, Veena Devi was contesting on the ticket of LJP (Ram Vilas). She won this seat in 2019 as an LJP candidate. RJD fielded former MLA Vijay Kumar Shukla alias Munna Shukla against Veen Devi.

In Gopalganj, sitting JD(U) MP Alok Kumar Suman was pitted against VIP candidate Premnath Chanchal alias Chanchal Paswan. Sitting BJP MP Janardan Singh Sigriwal was pitted against Congress candidate Akash Singh in the Maharajganj seat. Sigriwal was Minister in the NDA government headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Bihar, before he was elected to Lok Sabha. Akash Singh is the son of the president of Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) Akhilesh Prasad Singh.

A total electorate of 1,49,32,165 – 78,23,793 males, 71,07,944 females and 428 third genders – were eligible to exercise their franchise at 14, 872 polling stations to decide the fate of 86 candidates including eight women.

Arrangements for webcasting were made at 7,660 polling stations while 62 booths were managed by women only. Number of model polling stations was 77. Polling was earlier held in 24 seats during first five phases of the seven-phased Lok Sabha elections in Bihar. Counting of votes would be taken up on June 4.

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