Tenth round of Bihar panchayat polls concludes (Lead)

May 18th, 2011 - 6:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, May 18 (IANS) The tenth round of Bihar panchayat polls Wednesday saw voter turnout of around 60 percent, officials said. Voting was largely peaceful, barring sporadic incidents of violence.

“An estimated 60 percent of the eligible electorate cast their votes. The polling percentage may go up by one or two percent after final reports come in,” an official of the state election commission said.

Polls were held in 30 blocks — five of them Maoist-affected — in 21 districts to elect representatives for 15,767 village council posts.

A total of 52,188 candidates were in the fray.

Voting started at 7 a.m. and concluded at 5 p.m.

The commission had postponed elections in five districts — Gaya, Aurangabad, Banka, Jamui and Rohtas — which were scheduled to go to hustings in this round, due to fear of Maoist violence.

An official said that these districts will go to polls May 21, May 24 and May 28, following an assurance by the state government to provide adequate security.

Clashes between rival groups were reported from Daudnagar, Jehanabad and Patna Wednesday, officials said.

One polling official was killed while two were injured in a landmine blast triggered by the rebels Sunday in Jamui district during the ninth round of the panchayat polls. They also kidnapped seven officials, who were later released.

The first round of panchayat polls saw a police officer and a woman voter being killed in a rebel attack in Jamui. Similarly, one death was reported in the second and eighth round each.

Over four lakh ‘troublemakers and habitual offenders’ had signed undertakings promising not to disrupt the polls, police said. Last month, the state election commission had made it clear that if a candidate is attacked or intimidated during polls, his rival would be named in the police report.

The Maoists had issued a poll boycott call and threatened to disrupt the elections.

Elections in Bihar were once known for violence and booth capturing. In the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, 74 people were killed in poll-related violence. About 20 people were killed in the 2004 general elections and 158 during the 2001 panchayat elections.

A total of 262,000 panchayat members will be elected by May 28.

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