High voter turnout marked polling in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections in Bihar Thursday covering five constituencies – Bhagalpur, Banka, Kishanganj, Katihar and Purnea.
On the whole, 62.52 percent voting was recorded in five constituencies: Kishanganj, Purnia, Katihar, Banka and Bhagalpur.
Out of the five seats, polling was highest in three – Purnea (over 64%), Kishanganj (over 64%) and Katihar (68%) – all falling in Seemanchal region in the state’s northeast. Muslims have a sizeable population, ranging between 40 and 70%, in the Seemanchal districts.
These seats are critically important for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) as the party is contesting all the five seats from the NDA quota. Since the BJP is not contesting in any of these constituencies, its ally JD(U) is in a direct battle with the Congress-RJD.
The JD(U) is banking on development works done by Nitish Kumar and also his pro-Muslim image but the opposition alliance with its Muslim-Yadav axis and smaller caste-based cohorts offers a strong challenge.
All these five constituencies are rural seats. At present, the Congress and RJD hold four seats and the JDU is in charge of one seat.
Fates of 68 candidates will be decided by 86.01 lakh voters across Bhagalpur, Banka, Kishanganj, Katihar and Purnea Lok Sabha constituencies.
Voting was held from 7 am to 6 pm at all places except Katoria and Belhar assembly segments under Banka constituency where it concluded two hours early, the election department officials said.
In Banka, RJD MP Jayaprakash Narayan Yadav faces a three-cornered contest with JD(U)’s Giridhari Yadav and former MP Putul Kumari who has thrown her hat in the ring as an Independent.
Giridhari Yadav had won the seat in 1996 and 2004 while Putul Kumari had won it in 2010 in the election necessitated by the death of her husband Digvijay Singh.
Having won as an Independent, she finished second in 2014 when she contested as a BJP candidate, losing by a margin of just over 10,000 votes. She was recently expelled from the party after she refused to withdraw her nomination papers.
In Bhagalpur, RJD MP Shailesh Kumar alias Bulo Mandal is in a straight contest with Ajay Mandal of the JD(U).
Former Union minister Tariq Anwar seeks to retain Katihar as a Congress nominee. He had won the seat on an NCP ticket five years ago. A co-founder of the NCP, Anwar returned to the Congress last year after two decades. He had won the seat for the Congress four times in the 1980s and the 1990s.
The JD(U) has fielded Dulal Chandra Goswami there.
The Congress, which had won Kishanganj in 2014, has fielded local MLA Mohd Javed this time. Its sitting MP Asrarul Haque died last year.
The JD(U) has fielded Mahmood Ashraf and, notably, in 2014 when it fought separately from the BJP, the two parties had together polled less number of votes than the Congress winner.
The JD(U) candidate of 2014, Akhtarul Iman, is contesting on a ticket of the AIMIM headed by Hyderbad MP Asaduddin Owaisi. Kishanganj is the sole Lok Sabha seat in the state where the Muslim population exceeds 50 per cent.
Purnea MP Santosh Kumar Kushwaha of the JD(U) is in a straight fight with Uday Singh of the Congress who had won the seat on BJP ticket in 2004 and 2009 but quit the saffron party in protest that it is giving “too many” seats to the JD(U).
Uday Singh is the younger brother of NK Singh, a bureaucrat who is currently Chairman of the 15th Finance Commission. Their mother Madhuri Singh had won the seat twice in the 1980s as a Congress candidate.
- 58.14% polling till 5 pm. Kishanganj – 58.72%, Katihar – 62.17%, Purnia – 62.82%, Bhagalpur – 50.70%, Banka – 56.75%
- 52.02% polling till 4 pm. Kishanganj – 56.17%, Katihar – 50%, Purnia – 54%, Bhagalpur – 46%, Banka – 54.3%
- 45.77% polling till 3 pm
- 38.44% polling percentage till 2 pm. Kishanganj : 40.30%, Katihar: 37%, Purnia: 42%, Bhagalpur: 33%, Banka: 40.16%
- 31.23% polling till 1 pm
- 25.6% total polling till 12 noon. Banka : 28.3% , Bhagalpur : 23%, Katihar: 25%, Kishanganj: 26.2%, Purnia: 25.5%
- Brisk voting in in Muslim dominated seemanhcal region of Bihar as voters are eagerly waiting in the long queues to exercise their franchise.
- Peaceful voting is underway at all polling stations. First time eligible electorates are seen in zeal and zest to exercise their franchise.
- Polling percentage till 11am: Total : 18.97%, Banka : 18.32%, Bhagalpur : 18% Katihar: 21%, Kishanganj: 19.70% Purnia: 18%
- Poll percentage till 10am: Total : 14.95%, Banka : 14.25%, Bhagalpur : 15% Katihar: 15%, Kishanganj: 15.5% Purnia: 15%
- Voting was hampered for a brief period at several polling stations at Masuria in Banka town, Kahalgaon assembly segment in Bhagalpur and Purnea, election officials said.
- 98-year old woman exercised her franchise in Katihar Lok Sabha constituency
- About 9.2 per cent of the over 86 lakh electorates exercised their franchise in the first two hours of polling in Bihar on Thursday, with reports of EVM malfunctioning and poll boycott in some booths.
- More security forces were deployed at two polling stations in Khadiyara locality of Banka parliamentary constituency after supporters of the RJD and the JD(U) reportedly clashed, official sources said.
- Assistant returning officer cum sub-divisional officer (Naugachhia) Mukesh Kumar said that voters started visiting polling booths # 110 and 136 at around 8 am on the persuasion of personnel engaged for an increasing voting percentage but voters were still boycotting polling at booths # 111, 112 and 135.
- Voters boycotted polling at booths # 110, 111, 112, 135 and 136 in Gopalpur assembly segment under Bhagalpur Lok Sabha constituency expressing their anguish over non-construction of a road in their area. Bhagalpur Lok Sabha constituency is presently represented by RJD MP Shailesh Kumar alias Bulo Mandal. Neeraj Kumar alias Gopal Mandal is JD (U) MLA of Gopalpur.
- Poll boycott reported from a polling station in Amarpur assembly segment in Banka
- Voter turnout in Bihar’s five constituencies of Bhagalpur, Banka, Kishanganj, Katihar and Purnea is recorded at 4.54%, till 8am
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