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Bihar Assembly elections phase 2: Peaceful polling with low turnout; complaint in EC against Modi’s Saharsa speech


The poll panel said that a voter turnout of 53.51 percent was recorded but the figure was likely to go up

Polling in 94 Assembly constituencies in the second phase of the Bihar Vidhan Sabha polls was conducted peacefully, said the Election Commission on Tuesday, amid reports that voters in some villages boycotted the election.

The EC’s voter turnout mobile app showed a provisional voter turnout of over 54 percent for the phase two polls. The polling percentage is likely to go up as the poll panel updates the figure with more inputs from these constituencies. The voting percentage in the respective seats in the 2015 polls was 56.17, according to the Election Commission.

The combined voter turnout in the two phases was recorded at 53.79 percent till 5 pm, the Commission said.

The polling for the second phase took place even as campaigning underwent for phase three polls. According to reports, onions were thrown at Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar during a rally at Harlakhi in Madhubani district while the chief minister began talking about providing jobs.

As per reports, the JD(U) has written to the Election Commission against Tejashvi and Tej Pratap Yadav while CPI MP has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who too was campaigning on Tuesday, of violating the Model Code of Conduct. A complaint has also been filed against the prime minister for “trying to polarise elections on communal lines”.

According to the election commission, Rs 65.22 crore was seized as against Rs 23.81 crore in the 2015 Assembly elections, whereas, there were 420 poll code violations recorded in the phase two polls.

Bihar Assembly elections phase 2 Peaceful polling with low turnout complaint in EC against Modis Saharsa speech

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar shows his finger marked with indelible ink after casting his vote during the second phase of Bihar Assembly Election in Patna. AP

Polling extended till 6 pm

Voting took place at 41,362 polling stations at the constituencies spread across 17 districts, Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Kumar Bhushan said.

With the second phase concluded, polling has been completed in 165 constituencies in the state, he said.

Over 1.90 polling personnel were involved in the exercise, Bhushan informed, adding that 3,712 web-casting arrangements were made during phase two election.

The official further informed that of the 1,463 candidates in fray in the second phase, 494 had criminal antecedents.

Polling began at 7 am, but the time for its conclusion was extended by one hour till 6 pm to facilitate COVID-19 patients and those with symptoms of the disease to exercise their franchise during the final hour. The process, however, concluded early in Maoist-hit areas.

The Election Commission had earlier said that voting would draw to an end at 4 pm in eight seats — Gaura Bauram and Kusheshwar Asthan in Darbhanga district; Minapur, Paroo and Sahebganj in Muzaffarpur; Alauli and Beldour in Khagaria; and Raghopur in Vaishali.

Bihar Assembly elections phase 2 Peaceful polling with low turnout complaint in EC against Modis Saharsa speech

Voters queue up outside a polling booth. ANI

Prominent personalities including Governor Phagu Chauhan, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi, Tejashwi Yadav, and LJP president Chirag Paswan cast their votes in their respective polling booths in the morning.

While Kumar did not speak to media waiting outside the polling station, Tejashwi Yadav said after casting the ballot that people are “angry” with the government and they will vote for education, health, irrigation and law and order.

Former chief minister and Lalu Prasad’s wife Rabri Devi said Bihar needed change.

According to a Hindustan Times report, the turnout appeared to be better in rural areas than in urban centres earlier in the day.

However, voters boycotted elections at the Lodipur village in Danapur, to protest against the blockade of a road by the Indian Army, the report said.

According to news agency ANI, villagers of Chulhai Bishunpur in Baruraj Assembly constituency also boycotted elections over an alleged lack of development in the area.

The news agency also reported that a technical glitch was detected in a VVPAT at a polling Salaha Chandan village in Samastipur.

A BSF Sub Inspector on duty at a polling booth in the Lalganj Assembly seat died of heart attack, reported news agency PTI quoting police and hospital sources.

The 55-year-old deceased has been identified as KR Bhai, a resident of Vadodara in Gujarat and town police have recorded the statements of BSF personnel, sources said.

Police also said that an SSB jawan was killed after he was run over by an unidentified vehicle while on his way to attend election duty in East Champaran district. The jawan hailed from West Champaran district and was posted at the SSB’s 65th battalion in Bettiah, Kotwa police station SHO Rajiv Kumar said.

The body was handed over to his family members after the conduct of the post-mortem examination, he added.

Campaigning continues for phase three

Meanwhile, campaigning continued for the third phase of the election, scheduled for 7 November. Prime Minister Narendra Modi mocked the Congress for its shrinking numbers in the two Houses of Parliament which have dropped below 100, claiming people were punishing the party for its false promises of poverty eradication and farm loan waiver.

Addressing a rally in Saharsa, Modi said that “friends” of the votaries of “jungle raj” don’t want the people of Bihar to chant “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and “Jai Shri Ram”.

“If they are uncomfortable with those who chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, Bihar is also uncomfortable with them,” he said at a rally in Saharsa.

Katihar, Purnea and Kishanganj districts adjoining Saharsa have substantial Muslim population.

Following the rally, political analyst Tehseen Poonawalla filed a complaint with EC over the prime minister’s speech, alleging he was trying to polarise elections on communal lines.

Onions were thrown at Nitish Kumar’s rally at Harlakhi in Madhubani district, as the chief minister began talking about providing jobs, as per reports. Security personnel formed a shield around the chief minister, who could be heard saying “khub phenko, khub phenko” (throw more) Kumar also told the security personnel to let the person go and carried on with his speech.

According to an India Today report, the attacker alleged that the Nitish Kumar government has failed to stop the illegal trade of alcohol in Bihar.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi targetted  Modi on issues such as demonetisation, handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Centre’s farms laws at rallies in Kishanganj and Korha.

Rahul accused Modi and Kumar of having looted the state and claimed that the youth had decided to vote for the Grand Alliance.

“I want to ask all the youth who are here that Modi ji had said he will give two crore jobs every year, Nitish ji said the same, but where are the jobs? Why are the youth unemployed today?” he asked.

He also alleged that farmers are angry with Modi over the three recently enacted agricultural laws and added demonetisation hurt the poor but benefited the big “chosen” corporate and GST has harmed small shopkeepers.

“Every youth of Bihar knows that Narendra Modi and Nitishji have together looted Bihar. They have destroyed Bihar’s small shopkeepers. And now the youth and the farmer of Bihar have decided to vote for Grand Alliance,” said Rahul at the Kishanganj rally.

JDU files complaint against Yadav brothers, seeks cancellation of nomination

In another set of developments, a JDU delegation led by state minister Neeraj Kumar met Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), HR Srinivasa and submitted a memorandum demanding registration of an FIR and cancellation of nominations of Tejashwi Yadav and his brother Tej Pratap Yadav for allegedly concealing information about some properties in their election affidavits.

The party has demanded institution of an FIR against both besides cancellation of their nominations under Section A 123(2) of the Representation of Peoples Act.

The party also annexed documentary proofs with their memorandum addressed to the Election Commission of India and Kumar said the CEO assured him that informational would be conveyed to the poll panel.

CPI accuses PMO of seeking funds for BJP, files complaint

Also, CPI MP Binoy Viswam has written to the EC alleging violation of the Model Code of Conduct by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to the Bihar Assembly polls.

Referring to news reports, Viswam claimed that the Prime Minister’s Office, in a newsletter sent via its official PR email, solicited funds for the BJP’s work.

“In its newsletter on 21 October, the PMO has made an advertisement stating ‘support those who put India first. Support BJP through micro-donations’. On clicking on the link one is redirected to another page that solicits funds ranging from Rs 5 to Rs 1000 for the BJP,” Viswam alleged.

“While such misuse of power and position is condemnable at all times, it becomes particularly egregious given that the poll code came into effect for the Bihar elections on 25 September. The soliciting of funds for the BJP via the office of the prime minister is a prima facie violation of the MCC. To ensure the conduct of free and fair elections is the primary objective of the Election Commission,” the Left party MP said.

He further said it is incumbent upon the Election Commission to investigate the matter and take necessary action if any violation of the poll code has taken place.

With inputs from agencies

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