33 percent voting in Bihar polls, FIR against Lalu (Afternoon Lead)

November 1st, 2010 - 3:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Patna, Nov 1 (IANS) Nearly 33 percent of the electorate cast votes by Monday afternoon in the generally peaceful fourth phase of the Bihar assembly elections being held in 42 constituencies. Patna, however, saw some drama as a case was filed against RJD chief Lalu Prasad for violating the model code of conduct.

Additional Director General of Police P.K. Thakur told IANS that the polls were by and large peaceful though Maoists triggered a land-mine blast in Jamui district. Minor clashes and attempts to disrupt voting at a few booths were also reported, he said.

The land-mine blast took place near the Chakai-Jamui main road in Betia forest in Jamui and a bridge was damaged. No casualties were reported. “Maoists wanted to target a vehicle of central paramilitary forces but failed as the vehicle escaped,” Thakur said.

In a separate incident, some troublemakers exploded country-made bombs in Danapur near Patna to disrupt voting.

Ignoring the Maoists’ boycott call, voters, particularly women and youth, queued up outside polling booths soon after balloting began at 7 a.m. despite the morning cold.

“People lined up to cast their votes since early morning. Till 1 p.m. nearly 33 percent of the electorate had voted,” an official at the Bihar state election office said.

In some places, queues started forming outside the polling booths minutes before voting began.

In Patna, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad got into trouble as he entered the polling booth with his security guards, violating the model code of conduct. A first information report (FIR) was lodged against him.

The RJD chief and his wife, former chief minister Rabri Devi, cast their votes at a booth in Patna’s Digha constituency.

His political rival, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, lost no time in calling him a “habitual law breaker”.

“Lalu Yadav is a habitual law breaker, it is an old habit for him and he will not improve,” Nitish Kumar told reporters outside a polling booth in his hometown Bakhtiyarpur.

About 10.4 million people, including 4.6 million women, are eligible to vote to determine the electoral fate of 568 candidates in eight districts. The eight districts are Begusarai, Lakhisarai, Bhagalpur, Khagaria, Munger, Banka, Jamui and Patna.

Voting began at 7 a.m and will end 5 p.m. But balloting will take place in 14 constituencies in the Maoist-affected areas only till 3 p.m.

Bihar police chief Neelmani told IANS that tight security measures are in place for the election, and added that borders with Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh have been sealed.

“Central paramilitary force personnel man 85 percent of the booths and Special Task Force officials are conducting air surveillance from helicopters to ensure free and fair pollS,” he said.

“Besides, foolproof security has been made in Maoist-affected pockets to thwart any violence,” he added.

Neelmani said that patrolling on the Ganga river was continuing and mounted police teams were also keeping a vigil.

The first three rounds of the elections Oct 21, Oct 24 and Oct 28 passed off peacefully. They were held for 47, 45 and 48 seats respectively.

The heavyweights in this fourth phase include Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwarts and ministers Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Bhagalpur), Nand Kishore Yadav (Patna Sahib), Ramnarayan Mandal (Banka) and Janata Dal-United (JD-U) minister Damodar Raut.

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