An old man on the back of his son leaves after they cast their votes in the first phase of Bihar Assembly Elections, at Paliganj constituency in Patna on Wednesday
An old man on the back of his son leaves after they cast their votes in the first phase of Bihar Assembly Elections, at Paliganj constituency in Patna on Wednesday
PTI

The first phase of Bihar elections went off ‘peacefully’ on Wednesday, said officials. Citizens in 16 districts cast their ballot amid the Covid pandemic logging a turnout of 54.26%, which is marginally lower than in 2015.

Chakai, a Naxal-affected constituency, registered 61%, while Munger, which was hit by police-devotee clash on Monday, saw only 47% voters walking out to get their fingers inked amid heavy security bandobast.

Chief Election officer of Bihar H R Sriniwas said the polling was peaceful everywhere and some cases of minor EVMs glitches caused delays. He said in the first phase of assembly polls five years ago, 56% had exercised their rights of franchise.

In most booths in Rohtas, Nawada, Bhojpur and Gaya, voters were seen casting their ballot without masks. Even the polling staff were seen without face shields, masks or hand gloves. When asked by the mediapersons at a booth of Paliganj, 35 km from Patna, voters countered saying masks had not been made compulsory for the leaders during campaigning.

There were no arrangements for thermal screening at many booths in Rohtas, particularly at Nokha from where rebel BJP leader Rajendra Singh is a candidate.

At Wajirganj, Malai Patti, Arwal, Athmal Gola, Nasriganj, social distancing had gone for a toss.

Union minister Giriraj Singh, a voter in Lakhisarai, reached his booth an hour before polling began, but had to wait for another hour as the EVM was not working.

The police registered 89 cases for violation of many rules, including Covid guidelines, and detained 159 people for creating nuisance at the booths.

Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the voters were in favour of the NDA and the trend will continue in the other phases too.

Minister booked for poll code violation

Bihar Agriculture Minister and BJP candidate Prem Kumar was on Wednesday booked for violation of the poll panel's model code of conduct, police said.

Prem Kumar, the BJP candidate from the Gaya Town constituency, faced the action for going to a polling booth wearing yellow colour face mask on which his party symbol was printed even as voting for the first of the three-phase Assembly elections was underway.

A case was filed against Prem Kumar under various sections of the Indian Penal Code on the recommendation of the state's chief electoral officer, Additional Director General, Law and Order, Jitendra Kumar said.

As per the Election Commission guidelines, candidates or parties cannot campaign 36 hours prior to the start of polling.

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