42.16 per cent polling till 3 pm in eight LS seats of B

24.97 per cent polling till noon in 8 LS seats of Bihar

Patna: A worker carries Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and VVPAT machines on the eve of seventh and last phase of Lok Sabha polls, in Patna, Saturday, May 18, 2019. (Photo PTI)

An estimated 42.16 per cent of over 1.52 crore voters exercised their franchise till 3 pm on Sunday in eight Lok Sabha constituencies of Bihar in the seventh and final phase of the general election.

Polling, which began at 7 am, is currently underway at 15,811 booths in the eight seats - Nalanda, Patna Sahib, Pataliputra, Arrah, Buxar, Jehanabad, Sasaram (SC) and Karakat - amid tight security, he said.

Altogether 157 candidates, including four Union ministers, are in the fray in the seventh phase of the parliamentary polls.

Voting is also underway for bypoll to Dehri Assembly seat, which fell vacant last year upon the disqualification of RJD MLA and former state minister Mohd Ilyas Husain - convicted in the bitumen scam by a Ranchi court.

Dehri recorded 42.16 per cent polling till 3pm.

Barring a few instances of EVM glitches, polling has been peaceful so far with no untoward incidents reported from any of the constituencies, the election official said.

"Going by the reports that reached us from the district headquarters, we have found out that the voting process was temporarily hampered at a few polling stations in Arrah, Sasaram, Jehanabad, Pataliputra and Buxar. The officials have attended to the complaints and redressed the grievances," he said.

Of the eight Lok Sabha constituencies, Sasaram recorded the highest turnout at 47.30 per cent, followed by Karakat at 47 per cent, Buxar at 46 per cent, Jehanabad at 43 per cent, Pataliputra at 41.61 per cent, Nalanda at 40.87 per cent and Arrah at 38.52 per cent.

Patna Sahib, the high-profile seat with 21,42,842 voters in the state, recorded the lowest turnout at 35.29 per cent till 3 pm.

People of all age groups were seen queuing up outside booths even before the voting process commenced at 7 am.

Prominent candidates whose electoral fate will be sealed in Sunday's polling include Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, his Congress rival Shatrughan Sinha (Patna Sahib), Union minister Ram Kripal Yadav, his RJD rival Misa Bharti (Pataliputra), Central ministers Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Buxar) and R K Singh (Ara), and former Lok Sabha speaker and senior Congress leader Meira Kumar (Sasaram).

Among the early voters in the capital city were Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Kumar, after casting his vote at a polling station near Raj Bhawan, told reporters that summer months were not appropriate for holding the elections.

"Such long-drawn elections should not be held in intense heat conditions. This is not an appropriate time (conducive atmosphere) for holding elections. It must be held in February-March or October-November in two to three phases," he said.

Some of the restaurants in Patna have decided to offer discounts to customers who showed their inked fingers.

In a first, conjoined twins Sabah and Farah (23), who earned their right to be treated as two different individuals, cast their votes separately for the first time.

"We are very happy that we have been given separate voting rights. We have voted for development," Sabah said.

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