Polling held on Wednesday morning in 71 assembly constituencies of Bihar in the first phase of three-phase elections amid tight security and COVID-19 guidelines in place.
Of the total 2,14,84,787 electors eligible to exercise the franchise, 1,12,76,396 were male voters, 1,01,29,101 are female electors and 599 are in third gender category, according to data provided by the Election Commission
There were 78,691 service electors
A total of 1,066 candidates — 952 men and 114 women — are in the fray in the first phase of elections being held in constituencies spread across 16 districts.
Guidelines have been issued by the Commission for safe conduct of the electoral exercise in the midst of the raging COVID-19 pandemic
These guidelines include lowering the maximum number of voters for a polling booth from 1,600 to 1,000, staggering the polling hours and extending postal ballot facility to those above 80
Besides, sanitisation of electronic voting machines, wearing of masks and other protective gear by polling personnel and the availability of thermal scanner, hand sanitiser, soap and water has also to be ensured at polling stations
Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to people to follow all COVID-19 norms while going to cast their votes
“I urge all voters to ensure their participation in this festival of democracy taking all COVID-19 related precautions. Keep ‘do gaj ki doori’ (maintain a distance of two yards,) and wear mask mandatorily. Voting first, breakfast later,” he tweeted
As the polling began, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi urged people to cast their votes in favour of the Mahagathbandhan for “justice, employment and farmers-workers”
“This time for justice, employment, farmers-workers, your vote should be only for ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance),” Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi
“Good wishes to all of you on the first phase of Bihar elections,” he tweeted with the hashtag in Hindi ‘Aaj Badlega Bihar’
RJD leader and Mahagathbandhan’s chief ministerial candidate Tejashwi Yadav urged people to vote for a better future, education, health, jobs and development for Bihar
As many as 33 of the constituencies going to polls in the first phase have been declared as ?sensitive or hypersensitive? constituencies, the poll panel said.