Nearly 35% voting till 1 pm in 3rd phase of Bihar polls

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(Updates poll percentage, details) Patna, Nov 7 (PTI) An estimated 35 per cent of the total 2.35 crore electors exercised their franchise till 1 pm in the 78 assembly seats of Bihar where polling is underway in the third and final phase of elections on Saturday.

While the polling so far has been peaceful, police had to open fire in the air in Purnia to disperse a crowd trying to disturb voting, even as people boycotted polling at 12 booths in Katihar in protest against barriers not being set up at two railway crossings.

The poll opened at 7 am in the 78 assembly seats spread across 15 districts of north Bihar.

According to the Election Commission, the poll percentage at 1 pm was 34.82, higher than the corresponding figures for the first phase (33.10) and the second phase (32.82) of polls.

The maximum turnout of 40.15 per cent till 1 pm has been recorded in the Muzaffarpur district, and the minimum in Darbhanga (26.58).

In Araria, the RJD candidate from Jokihat seat, Sarfaraz Alam, turned up for voting with a party badge pinned in his shirt which may invite charges of violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

When asked about it, Alam smirked, refusing to make any comment.

Araria District Magistrate Prashant Kumar said the matter has come to his knowledge and lawful action would be initiated in the candidate.

Alam is the elder son of former Union minister Mohammad Taslimuddin and is pitted against younger brother Mohammad Sahnawaz, who is in the fray from Asaduddin Owaisi- led AIMIM party.

In Purnia, the police had to fire in the air to chase away people trying to disturb voting outside a booth under Dhamdaha assembly segment.

In terms of polling percentage, Muzaffarpur (40.15) is followed by Vaishali (37.99), Saharsa (37.58), Purnia (37.23), Pashchim Champaran (35.82), Supaul (35.73), Katihar (35.34), Madhubani (34.67), Purvi Champaran (34.62), Kishanganj (34.45), Samastipur (34.16), Madhepura (33.93), Araria (32.79), Sitamarhi (31.51), and Darbhanga (26.58).

Voting is being held simultaneously in the Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat, where a bypoll has been necessitated due to the death of JD(U) MP Baidyanath Mahto.

It has recorded a turnout of 35.82 per cent till 1 pm.

Madhepura districts Bihariganj, from where veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadavs daughter Subhashini Yadav is making her poll debut on a Congress seat, has recorded a polling percentage of 32.90 till 1 pm.

Subhashini stood in a queue to cast her vote at a polling booth in Madhepura.

After casting her vote, the 30-year-old said her father, who represented Madhepura multiple times in Lok Sabha, has worked honestly for development of the constituency and that is why he is respected by people of all religions and castes.

Plurals Party president Pushpam Priya Choudhary, who is also her partys chief ministerial candidate, cast her vote with her mother in a booth at Darbhanga.

Speaker of the outgoing assembly Vijay Kumar Chaudhary and about one dozen ministers of the Nitish Kumar cabinet are in fray in this round of voting.

Minister Suresh Sharma cast his vote in Muzaffarpur.

Meanwhile, people at 12 booths under Kusail panchayat in Kadwa assembly constituency of Katihar are boycotting the polls in protest against barriers not being installed in nearby Minapur and Jhaua railway crossings.

Block Development Officer Md Iftar and other senior officials have reached the area to persuade people to vote.

The first phase of voting for the 243-trong assembly took place on October 28 and the second phase on November 3.

The votes will be counted on November 10. PTI TIR SNS SNS SNS