Braving heat, Bihar votes in large numbers
Ignoring the scorching summer heat, over three million voters - one-third of the electorate - Monday cast their ballots in Bihar's six Lok Sabha constituencies in the last phase of India's general election, officials said.
Nearly 35 percent of the electorate voted in the first six hours.
Additional Chief Electoral Officer R. Lakshmanan said voting was peaceful despite apprehensions of violence.
"So far, polling has been peaceful with no report of violence," he said.
Lakshmanan said voters turned up early and long queues were seen at polling booths.
In some places, people were spotted at the booths even before the start of polling.
"It is a good sign as a large number of enthusiastic people have come out to cast their votes, particularly in rural areas," he said.
With Bihar reeling under a heat wave, the turnout was an example of people ignoring the scorching summer sun for the sake of exercising their democratic right.
According to the Met department, the heat wave has become stronger in the last few days with the maximum temperature ranging between 41 and 44 degrees Celsius.
The constituencies where voting is taking place are Valmiki Nagar, West Champaran, East Champaran, Vaishali, Gopalganj and Siwan.
Among the prominent candidates are former union ministers Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Raghunath Jha, filmmaker Prakash Jha, Hena Sahab, wife of jailed former MP Mohammad Shahabuddin and Anu Shukla, wife of jailed former legislator Munna Shukla.
In West Champaran, Prakash Jha is pitted against incumbent MP Sanjay Jaiswal of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Raghunath Jha of the Rashtriya Janata Dal. In Siwan, Hena Sahab (RJD) is contesting against BJP's 2009 winner Om Prakash Yadav.
In Vaishali, RJD's Raghuvansh Prasad Singh faces Lok Janshakti Party candidate Rama Singh. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has won the seat five times in the past.
A total of 90 candidates are in the electoral fray.
It is for the first time in Bihar that a Mahadalit candidate, Purnmasi Ram, is contesting from a general seat of Valmiki Nagar. He is the Congress candidate.
Polling is taking place at 8,582 polling stations where over nine million people are eligible to vote.
(Posted on 12-05-2014)