Polls begins on peaceful note in Bihar

May 7th, 2009 - 9:49 am ICT by IANS  

Ram Vilas Paswan Patna, May 7 (IANS) Voting for the fourth phase of parliamentary elections in three of the 40 constituencies in Bihar began Thursday morning amid heavy security arrangements in view of the threat of Maoist violence.
Long queues of voters were seen at some polling stations here much before the 7 a.m. opening time.

About 4.89 million voters in the three constituencies of state are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 57 candidates.

Additional Director General of Police Neelmani said that security has been beefed up as some pockets of rural Patna and Nalanda districts have been identified as Maoist-affected.

“Anti-landmine vehicles have been provided to all the police stations in Maoist affected areas,” he said.

This phase is crucial for Railway Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad as well as Chief Minister and Janata Dal-United (JD-U) chief Nitish Kumar.

In Patliputra, Lalu Prasad is locked in a straight fight with his friend-turned-foe Ranjan Prasad Yadav of the JD-U.

Congress candidate Vijay Kumar Yadav may split some Yadav votes between him and Lalu Prasad, which goes to the JD-U’s advantage.

Lalu Prasad is also contesting from Saran constituency that went to the polls April 16.

In Nalanda constituency, the contest will be between JD-U’s Kaushalendra Kumar, who was handpicked by Nitish Kumar, and Lok Janshakti Party’s Satish Kumar.

Nitish Kumar seems confident of victory in his home constituency and has been canvassing for votes for Kaushalendra Kumar by highlighting all the development work he has carried out as chief minister.

Lalu Prasad’s RJD is in alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP. They are said to be enjoying overwhelming support from the Yadavs, a powerful backward caste, and Paswans, a powerful Dalit caste.

Besides, they also enjoy support of the Muslim community, other backward castes (OBCs) and Dalits.

For the first time, Lalu Prasad and Paswan are trying to win over a section of upper castes, mainly Brahmins and Rajputs, who are said to be unhappy with Nitish Kumar.

Voters in Patna Saheb constituency have to chose between celebrities Shatrughan ‘Shotgun’ Sinha and Shekhar ‘Shaker’ Suman.

Shekhar, an actor and TV talk-show “Movers and Shakers” host is contesting for the Congress, while Shatrughan - a Bollywood star and a judge of “The Shotgun Show” TV talent show - is running for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

They have many things in common besides haveing made their mark in the entertainment industry. The two are sons of the soil and both belong to the upper caste of Kayasths, which has over 500,000 votes in the constituency. The similarities give voters a stark choice.

However, Shekhar is a fresher in politics compared to Shatrughan, who has been a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP government.

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