The first phase of the Bihar assembly elections on Monday saw a voter turnout of 57 per cent. Polling was held for 49 of 243 constituencies on the state, where the BJP hopes to deprive Nitish Kumar of a straight third term as Chief Minister.
The Election Commission said voter turnout is a record for Bihar. In the 2010 assembly elections, 50.85 per cent of the electorate had voted. Women turned out in larger numbers to vote than men – 59.5 per cent of the women voted and 54.5 per cent of the men. There were 1.35 crore voters in this phase.
Added to the tight security detail for the first phase election was the deployment of three drones.
Polling was very peaceful, said Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha
Of the 49 seats where polling was held, Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) had won 29 in 2010. But it had fought that election in partnership with the BJP, which now leads the rival camp. Mr. Kumar’s new ally is Lalu Prasad Yadav, his number 1 rival in the last election.
This time, the JD(U) is contesting 24 of the 49 seats in the first phase, Lalu’s RJD is contesting 17 and third partner Congress is contesting eight. The big worry is whether Lalu Prasad will be able to transfer his votes to the JD(U).
The BJP is contesting 27 seats in the first phase and ally Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP is contesting 13. The LJP has high stakes in this phase – it holds four of this region’s eight Lok Sabha seats. Other BJP allies are contesting the nine other seats.
The BJP-led coalition is targeting at winning at least 30 of the 49 seats in today’s election to get a strong start in what is seen as a neck-and-neck contest.