Ballot scores over bullet in Bihar

Voters ignore Naxal call for boycotting fifth-phase poll

Around 50 per cent of the voters came out of their houses to exercise their franchise on Tuesday, ignoring the Naxalites’ call for boycotting the fifth phase of the elections at 35 constituences in eight districts of Bihar.

Barring a few stray incidents of violence, polling was by and large peaceful in the Naxal-infested areas.  The Election Commission had roped in Border Security Force (BSF) helicopters, apart from mounted policemen and Central reserve paramilitary forces (CRPF) to keep an eye on trouble makers.

Despite the advent of Chhath, the most auspicious festival in Bihar, women in large numbers turned up in rural areas to cast their votes.

Tight vigil

Though strict vigil was being maintained, the Naxalites were successful in setting a bus afire near Gaya, which was on its way to bring people to attend a Rashtriya Janata Dal rally.

The other notable incident was witnessed at certain constituencies where not a single voter turned up to cast  vote. The vote boycott took place at Rajgir (booth no 172), Nalanda (booth no 52) and Masaurhi (booth no 186, 187) where people shouted slogans against the government: “Pool nahin toh vote nahin (No bridge, no vote).”

“If the government can’t construct a bridge despite our repeated reminders, we are left with no choice but to boycott voting,” Ramadhar Sharma told Deccan Herald over the phone from Masaurhi.

Elsewhere, the police arrested 269 people on the charge of creating nuisance. Besides, 99 vehicles plying on roads without permission were also seized. There were some incidents of damage to EVMs.

With Tuesday’s poll, voting has taken place in 217 Assembly constituencies so far. The elections for the remaining 26 seats will take place on November 20, one week after the Chhath festival is over. Counting of votes is slated for November 24.

The percentage of polling in the fifth phase was higher than 41.24 per cent polled in the same areas in 2005 Assembly polls and 39.43 per cent in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

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