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|September 25, 1999||
Polling peaceful in Bihar
Polling booths opened at 0700 hours in 74 constituencies spread over Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Himachal Pradesh and four other states in the fourth stage of the 13th general election, primarily a face-off between the National Democratic Alliance of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Sonia Gandhi-led Congress.
An electorate of 80 million will decide the fate of 696 candidates in the fray for 24 Lok Sabha constituencies in UP, 19 in Bihar, 12 in Madhya Pradesh, 10 in Orissa, four in Himachal, two in Meghalaya and one each in Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur.
By this evening, polling for 418 constituencies out of the 545-member Lok Sabha would be over.
Security has been stepped up in Bihar and other states in the aftermath of the September 18 violence that left 38 persons dead.
Key contests in UP include Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav (Sambhal), veteran Congress leader Narain Dutt Tiwari (Nainital), Union Minister of State for Agriculture Sompal Shastri and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh (Baghpat), Union Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi (Pilibhit) and Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (Rampur).
In Bihar, Defence Minister George Fernandes is in the fray from Nalanda, his fellow Samata Party leader Nitish Kumar from Barh and former railway minister Ramvilas Paswan from Hajipur.
It will be the second stage of the election in these two key states of the Hindi heartland.
Polling in Bihar began this morning amid tight security.
Official sources said that polling was progressing peacefully since morning.
The voting was dull in the early hours and only about five to 10 per cent of the electorate had exercised their franchise in the first two hours of the polling, confirmed the state election office in Patna.
Sources said no untoward incident has been reported so far from anywhere.
In Madhya Pradesh, two helicopters have been maintaining aerial surveillance in the Naxalite-infested areas, spread over Bastar (scheduled caste), Kanker (scheduled tribe), Rajnandgaon, Balaghat and Mandla constituencies.
The police force deployed in the area have been equipped with landmine detectors in view of the incidents of landmine blast during the previous elections.
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