Patna: Around 56 percent of the 1.55 crore electorate voted till late afternoon on Thursday in the fifth and final round of the staggered assembly elections in Bihar, officials said.
Eight voters were injured when central paramilitary forces resorted to baton charge at polling booths in Araria and Katihar districts.
Four voters were injured at a polling booth in Jokihat assembly constituency in Araria, as security forces baton-charged villagers after someone attacked a security personnel on duty.
Similarly, security personnel had to use force at a polling booth in Katihar district to disperse anti-social elements trying to indulge in bogus voting, in which four people were injured, officials said.
Thousands of people — women outnumbering men — stood in long queues at polling stations from early in the morning, officials as well as witnesses said.
Polling took place in the last 57 of the 243 constituencies across seven districts: Kishanganj, Purnea, Araria and Katihar in Seemanchal region, and Saharsa, Madhepura and Supaul in Kosi region.
A total of 827 candidates contested on Thursday — with the battle mostly between contestants of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP-led four-party alliance and the Grand Alliance of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Voting began at 7 a.m. and was scheduled to end at 5 p.m.
Janata Dal-United (JD-U) president Sharad Yadav voted in Madhepura and BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain in Supaul.
The Jan Adhikar Party of expelled RJD MP Pappu Yadav, is also in the fray.
However, Pappu Yadav, who was admitted at a hospital in Purnea, was scheduled to be taken to the AIIMS in Delhi on Thursday after his condition deteriorated.
Bihar Police chief P.K. Thakur said polling was mainly peaceful.
The 57 constituencies cover some of Bihar’s most backward pockets notorious for poverty, illiteracy and mass migration.
Stray clashes took place between rival groups.
At some places, the electronic voting machines malfunctioned. Apart from that, it was a smooth exercise.
Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi’s Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) is also contesting from six seats in Seemanchal region.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is banking heavily on Modi’s appeal and the support of the upper castes — Brahmins, Bhumihar, Rajputs — and also hopes to gain the backing of other communities.
Allied with the BJP are the Lok Janshakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party of Upendra Kushwaha — both union ministers — and the Hindustani Awam Morcha of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.
The Grand Alliance includes the JD-U, the Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad and the Congress.
The millions of votes polled in the staggered elections that began on October 12 will be counted on November 8.
First Published | 5 November 2015 5:27 PM