58.92% voters brave heat to vote in Bihar
Ignoring heat wave-like conditions, 58.92 per cent voters turned out to cast their votes in Bihar's five Lok Sabha constituencies that went to polls on Monday, till 5 p.m, said an official.
Polling was held in Begusarai, Ujiarpur, Darbhanga, Munger and Samastipur seats.
"Long queues were seen at polling booths in rural as well as urban pockets of these constituencies despite heat wave-like conditions," the official said, adding that women queued up in large numbers outside polling booths in the initial three hours of voting.
Voting that started at 7 a.m. would officially end at 6 p.m. More than 87 lakh voters are eligible to decide the fate of 67 candidates, including some political heavyweights, in this phase of elections.
Union Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Giriraj Singh in Begusarai is being challenged by JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, contesting on the Communist Party of India (CPI) ticket.
The BJP has fielded state unit chief Nityanand Rai from Ujiarpur, where the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) chief and former Minister Upendra Kushwaha is also in the fray.
In Munger, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) has fielded Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's close aide Lalan Singh against Congress candidate Neelam Devi, wife of Independent MLA Anant Singh.
In Darbhanga, senior Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui is in the fray against BJP's Gopaljee Thakur.
This phase of polling will also decide the fate of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Ramchandra Paswan, brother of LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, in Samastipur.
People at several polling booths boycotted the polls over closure of jute mills.
Heavy security was deployed at all booths and three helicopters were also stationed to provide air cover.
According to officials, the voting was peaceful, except for some sporadic clashes between supporters of rival parties. In Begusarai, villagers clashed with security forces and pelted stones after getting beaten up by the police.
Villagers in Begusarai and Samastipur alleged that polling officials forced some voters to cast their votes in favour of a particular party candidate.