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First phase of Bihar polls on Tuesday, security tightened
October 17, 2005 11:12 IST
Twice within a year Bihar will go to polls, on Tuesday, amidst a boycott called by Naxalites. Across 12 Naxalite-hit distritcs, 57 constituencies are electing new representatives in the first phase.
Chief Secretary G S Kang said that around 90,000 men and officers of Central Para-Military Forces, Bihar military police and district armed police, besides homeguards, would provide security. Indian Air Force choppers have been patrolling the skies to ward off any threat from the ultra-Left extremists.
According to state election office sources, over 1.23 crore voters were eligible to exercise their franchise and 13,3,38 polling stations have been set up.
Kang said since these constituencies were spread over 12 Naxal violence-hit districts - Patna, Bhojpur, Buxar, Kaimur, Rohtas, Gaya, Jehanabad, Arwal, Aurangabad, Nawada, Banka and Jamui - the security forces have been provided with mine detectors and anti-mine vehicles.
Besides this, aerial surveillance would be maintained by four IAF choppers to track the movement of Naxalites.
The state's Chief Electoral Officer N K Sinha said the Election Commission had made it clear that polling would not be held in booths where security was not provided. He said 70 per cent of the polling stations would be covered by around 43,000 Central Para-Military Forces and the rest by the BMP, DAP and homeguards.
In a special drive launched by the state police, on the instruction of the EC over the past three months, over 1.4 lakh potential trouble-makers, including 5000 hardened criminals, have been arrested. The police also seized over 3000 firearms and unearthed over 100 illegal gun factories, he said.
While the Rashtriya Janata Dal has fielded its nominees in 49 constituencies, its ally, Congress, has put up candidates in seven and Communist Party of India-Marxist in one. National Democratic Alliance allies Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal (United) are contesting in 24 and 33 seats respectively.
The first phase is crucial for all, but more importantly for RJD, which had secured 23 of the 57 seats last time. JD (U) had bagged 12, its ally BJP (four), Lok Janshakti Party (nine), CPI-M (four), Samajwadi Party and Congress (one each) and Independents (three).
Though earlier, polling was scheduled to be held in 61 constituencies in the first phase, it was postponed in Gaya (Town), Gaya (Mufassil), Bodh Gaya and Belaganj for October 21, to ensure effective deployment of police force in Naxalite-affected Gaya district. Electronic voting machines would be used in all polling stations.
Prominent among those whose fate would be decided in the first phase include ministers in the erstwhile Rabri Devi government - Shyam Rajak (Phulwarisharif), Jagdanand Singh (Ramgarh), Mahabali Singh (Chainpur), Illiyas Hussain (Dehri), Raghvendra Pratap Singh (Barahra), Shivanand Tiwari (Shahpur) and Shakeel Ahmed Khan (Gurua).
The leader of the LJP legislature party in the dissolved Assembly, Ramashray Prasad Singh, is contesting on JD (U) ticket from Makhdumpur against former Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee president Ram Jatan Sinha, who quit the Congress to join LJP following denial of ticket.