A paltry 47 per cent voting was registered in the crucial bypolls to 10 Assemby seats in Bihar on Thursday, five per cent less than recorded in the 2010 Assembly poll.
The bypolls are an indicator of whether the “Mandal forces” represented by Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar, who buried their two decades of differences to come together, have managed to stop the BJP juggernaut which rode on a Narendra Modi wave.
According to an Election Commission statement, the Narkatiaganj constituency saw the maximum voting among 10 seats at 58 per cent. The BJP fielded Rashmi Verma, a kin of the first President of the country, Dr Rajendra Prasad, from the seat. She is pitted against Fakruddin Khan of Congress.
Whereas Bhagalpur saw the minimum at mere 37 per cent at the end of voting at 6 PM, the EC statement said. In the Assembly poll the constituency had witnessed 42.62 per cent voting on which BJP leader Ashwani Choubey who is now MP from here had won.
Voting percentage was 42 at Rajnagar (SC) seat, Jale (44 per cent), Chapra (47.4 per cent), Hajipur (46 per cent), Mohiuddinnagar (57 per cent), Parbatta (45 per cent), Banka (45 per cent) and Mohania (SC) (48.2 per cent), the EC said.
The Chapra seat which has considerable influence of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad registered increased voting percentage at 47.4 today vis-a-vis 44.73 in the 2010 poll. But, Hajipur which forms part of LJP chief and Union minister Ramvilas Paswan Lok Sabha constituency saw almost 10 per cent lower voting percentage at 46 per cent that it was in 2010 Assembly poll.
The bypolls are a litmus test for the Lalu-Nitish combine to stage a comeback in Bihar politics after a near rout in the general election. The outcome of the bypoll, the first major political event after the general elections, is significant as it will show the mood of the people before next year’s Assembly polls.
Counting of votes will take place on August 25. Stakes are also high for the BJP-led NDA in the bypoll. Six out of the 10 seats were won by the BJP in the 2010 Assembly election. Moreover, they have the challenge to prove that massive victory in the recent general election was not a fluke.
Considering this in mind, the BJP leaders along with its allies LJP and Rashtriya Loktantrik Samata Party (RLSP) aggressively campaigned for the bypoll.
Altogether 94 candidates, including five women, are in the fray. Hajipur has maximum 15 contestants while Banka and Rajnagar (SC) have a minimum of six candidates each. There was a total of 26,42,407 voters in the 10 constituencies having 2,422 booths. Except for Maoist-hit Hajipur, Parbatta and Banka where voting was from 7:00 AM to 4.00 PM, in the remaining seven constituencies the duration was 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
No untoward incident has been reported from anywhere during the voting which took place under tight security. According to the EC statement, a total of 33 persons were arrested during voting and 12 vehicles seized. In all 170 video cameras and 915 digital cameras were used for voting during the day.
Live webcasting was done on 222 polling booths. The outcome of the by-polls would not have much impact on the functioning of the government as Jitan Ram Manjhi ministry supported by RJD, Congress, CPI and 2 Independents enjoyed a strength of 144, 22 more than the magic figure of 122.