The month-long assembly elections, Bihar's second in 2005, came to an end Saturday as the fourth phase of polling in 41 constituencies passed off by and large peacefully, with an estimated 45 to 50% voter turnout.
"Polling for the fourth phase of elections passed off without any violence with an estimated 45 to 50% voter turnout," state's Additional Chief Electoral Officer Deepak Prasad said.
The four-phase polls, held in the backdrop of controversial dissolution of the 13th assembly in which no one party or combination of parties enjoyed a majority in the 243-member House, witnessed lesser violence as compared to earlier ones in the state.
Two persons were killed in different incidents during the elections this time.
While a booth-grabber was shot dead by security personnel in Obra constituency during first phase of polling on October 18, a mentally challenged youth was killed by Border Security Force on October 26 when he pointed a toy gun at them near a polling station in Raghopur constituency from where Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and former chief
minister Rabri Devi is trying her luck for a fourth time.
Former Bihar minister and independent candidate for Garkha assembly seat in Saran district Muneshwar Chaudhary was detained Saturday morning in apprehension of breach of peace.
Two supporters of a candidate for Mokama seat were arrested at Darve village in Barh sub-division of Patna district and a double-barrel gun, two country-made pistols, one 9 mm pistol and 73 rounds of ammunition were seized from
them just before polling started.
About 225 people were arrested while trying to disturb the polling Saturday, state home department sources said.
A group of people burst two powerful crackers at a polling station in Danapur assembly constituency on the outskirts of the state capital to intimidate voters, but polling remained unaffected.
Election Commission's Special Adviser K J Rao, who rushed to the scene, confirmed that it was only a cracker burst.
There were reports of defects in electronic voting machines in Siwan, Patna East, Islampur, Sonepur, Garkha and Nalanda constituencies which were promptly attended to.
The fate of 394 candidates, including state convenor of the National Democratic Alliance Nand Kishore Yadav (Patna East), and former ministers in the erstwhile Rabri Devi government Udit Rai (Chapra), Chandrika Rai (Parsa), Avadh Bihari Chaudhary (Siwan) (all RJD) and Vijay Shanker Dubey (Raghunathpur) have been sealed in the EVMs.
The second assembly elections in less than nine months is likely to be a close contest between the RJD-led Secular
Democratic Front and the NDA, which came within a whisker of forming its government before the assembly was dissolved.
With media prognosis of a hung house this time too, Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party, which held the key to the formation of a government after the February polls, and smaller parties like Communist Party of India-Maoist Leninist, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party as also independents may play a crucial role in government-making this time also.
However, the two major contenders for power are confident of their respective alliances getting a clear majority.
"There is an undercurrent in our favour and we will get ablsolute majority," RJD supremo Lalu Prasad told reporters after casting his vote along with his wife and former chief minister Rabri Devi and their daughters.
NDA's chief ministerial candidate Nitish Kumar too exuded confidence about the alliance getting a positive vote and a clear and decisive majority.
Kumar, who spoke to reporters after casting his vote at Bakhtiarpur, refused to hazard a guess about the number of seats he expected the alliance to win but said "we will be able to form a strong and effective government on our own".
After the long-drawn voting spread over one month in four phases, results of the keenly fought electoral battle will be eagerly awaited when counting is taken up on November 22.