Bihar goes to polls amid heavy securityApril 16th, 2009 - 10:38 am ICT by IANS
Patna, April 16 (IANS) Polling for the first phase of general elections began Thursday morning in 13 of the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar amid shoot at sight orders for the police to prevent violence by Maoists and political musclemen, officials said.
Long queues of voters were seen at various polling centres during the first hour of polling, which began at 7 a.m.
“The state administration has taken adequate measures to check violence during the polls,” Bihar police chief D.N. Gautam said.
He said that 110,000 police personnel, including central paramilitary forces, have been deployed at 19,738 polling booths. Two Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters are also being used for aerial surveillance.
Most Maoist affected areas of the state are going to the polls in the first phase. The rebels of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) have called for boycott of the election.
The constituencies going to polls in the first phase are Gaya, Jehanabad, Aurangabad,
Nawada, Ara, Buxar, Karakat, Maharajganj, Sasaram, Jamui, Saran, Siwan, Gopalganj.
About 17.6 million people are eligible to exercise their franchise, which will decide the electoral fortunes of 223 candidates, including Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad in Saran, central ministers Meira Kumar in Sasaram and Kanti Singh in Karakat.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Janata Dal-United’s (JD-U)Prabhunath Singh and Congress’s Nikhil Kumar are also in the poll fray.
In Siwan and Nawada constituencies, jailed RJD MP Mohammad Shahabuddin’s wife Heena Sahab and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) MP Surajbhan Singh’s wife Veena Devi, respectively, are trying their luck.
Both Shahabuddin and Singh, known criminal-turned-politicians, have been convicted for murder and have been barred from the polls.
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