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|October 16, 1999||
Election '99 trots towards finish line
Shoot-at-sight orders are in place as the longest poll exercise in the country approaches an end with the balloting in five Lok Sabha constituencies of Bihar and Assam on Thursday.
Polling, initially scheduled for the last phase on October 3, was deferred in Bhagalpur, Purnea, Khagaria and Rajmahal, all in Bihar, due to floods. The election to the Dhubri seat from Assam was postponed following the abduction and killing of Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Pannalal Oswal.
Also, repolling would be held in 178 booths of Outer Manipur, where large-scale irregularities, mostly snatching of ballot boxes, was reported in the October 3 balloting.
More than 5.3 million voters are eligible to choose from among the 49 candidates in the fray for the five seats. The four Bihar seats fall in the regions of Anga-Magadh and Wazika-Mithila. Both the regions have emerged as strongholds of the BJP-Janata Dal United.
Congress' Abdul Hamid holds the Dhubri seat. He won by a massive margin of 190,000 votes. He faces the BJP's Bimal Oswal, the eldest son of Pannalal Oswal. The campaigning, held under tight security, had passed without incident.
State Director General of Police K A Jacob Wednesday said that all booths would be guarded by armed police. Combing operation have been intensified. Special measures have been taken to detect landmines in the extremist-affected areas, he added.
Besides 24 companies of the paramilitary, 50 companies of the state police and home guards would also be deployed.
Forty people, including security and polling officials, have lost their lives in poll and post poll-related violence in Bihar this time around.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress are in the fray from Bhagalpur and Purnea. The Congress and RJD had reached an agreement on Rajmahal and Khagaria, but the CPI had walked out dissatisfied. It fielded its MLA Satyanarain Singh in Khagaria where the RJD candidate is Nayana Rana. The main contest is between the RJD and JD-U.
In Purnea, BJP's Jaikrishna Mandal, CPI's S Khalil Ahmed and independent Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav are locked in a three-pronged contest.
Bhagalpur would witness a straight fight between CPI-M's Subodh Roy and BJP's Prabhashchandra Tiwari.
In Rajmahal, BJP's Som Marandi is locked in battle with Congress nominee Thomas Hansda.
Bhagalpur has the maximum number of voters (12,33,246) followed by Purnea (10,85,515), Dhubri (10,50,226), Khagaria (10,44,754) and Rajmahal (9,50,682).
ELECTION 99 |
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