Polling underway on 8 seats in Bihar

Patna, May 25 (UNI) Polling began on peaceful note at 7 am for the 6th phase of Lok Sabha elections on eight seats in Bihar where more than 1.49 crore electorate are set to exercise their franchise on Saturday amid tight security arrangements to decide fate of 86 candidates.

Lok Sabha seats where polling was in progress were — East Champaran, West Champaran, Valmiki Nagar, Sheohar, Siwan, Vaishali, Gopalganj and Maharajganj. NDA had bagged all these seats in 2019 Lok Sabha elections while opposition INDIA bloc then contesting as Grand Alliance, had drawn blank.

Constituents of NDA whose candidates were in fray on Saturday are BJP, JD(U) and LJP (Ram Vilas), while in INDIA bloc, it was RJD, Congress and VIP candidates.

A large number of electorate were seen waiting in long queues to exercise their franchise. Women and first time voters were enthusiastically casting their votes.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP had won four seats while JD(U) and LJP had bagged three seats and one seat respectively. Seats where BJP candidates had emerged victorious are — East Champaran, West Champaran , Sheohar and Maharajganj. JD(U) had won Valmiki Nagar, Siwan and Gopalganj while LJP had won the Vaishali seat.

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

In NDA, BJP was contesting in East Champaran, West Champaran and Maharajganj while JD(U) was contesting in Valmiki Nagar, Sheohar, Siwan, and Gopalganj, whereas LJP (Ram Vilas ) on the Vaishali seat.

In the INDIA bloc, RJD has fielded its candidates in Valmiki Nagar, Sheohar, Siwan,Vaishali while Congress has fielded its candidates in West Champaran and Maharajganj seats. VIP, another constituent INDIA bloc, has fielded its candidates in East Champaran and Gopalganj seat.

In East Champaran, BJP has 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 is facing a challenge from VIP candidate Rajesh Kumar Kushwaha.

Similarly, sitting BJP MP Dr Sanjay Jaiswal is 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 is facing a challenge from RJD candidate Deepak Yadav. Kushwaha had won bye-election from this seat after the death of his father Baidyanath Prasad Mahto who had won the JD(U) ticket in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

In Sheohar, JD(U) candidate Lovely Anand was contesting against Ritu Jaiswal. Lovely is the wife of Anand Mohan Singh, a former MP who was convicted in murder case of Gopalganj DM G Krishnayia in nineties. He was released from jail last year.

JD(U) has fielded Vijaya Laxmi in Siwan Lok Sabha seat replacing its sitting MP Kavita Singh. RJD has fielded Awadh Bihari Chaudhary from this seat who was Speaker of Bihar Legislative Assembly during the regime of Grand Alliance government in Bihar.

In Vaishali, Veena Devi is contesting on the ticket of LJP (Ram Vilas) who had won from this seat in 2019 Lok Sabha elections on ticket of LJP headed by former Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. LJP disintegrated after his death in 2020 and LJP (Ram Vilas) is headed by his son Chirag Paswan.

RJD has fielded former MLA Vijay Kumar Shukla alias Munna Shukla against Veen Devi. Shukla is Bahubali (muscle man) and a number of criminal cases are pending against him.

In Gopalganj, sitting JD(U) MP Alok Kumar Suman is pitted against VIP candidate Premnath Chanchal alias Chanchal Paswan.

Sitting BJP MP Janardan Singh Sigriwal is pitted against Congress candidate Akash Singh in the Maharajganj seat. Sigriwal was Minister in 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 of 1,49,32,165 electorate including 78,23,793 males, 71,07,944 females and 428 third genders are eligible to exercise their franchise at 14, 872 polling stations to decide the fate of 86 candidates including eight women.

Arrangements for webcasting have been made at 7,660 polling stations while 62 booths would be managed by women only. Number of model polling stations is 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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