Fourth phase of Bihar polls begins

More than 1.4 crore people in areas hit by Maoist violence and communal and caste conflicts will vote in 42 seats across eight districts for the fourth phase of Bihar elections on Monday, amid some of the heaviest security bandobast seen so far.

As many as 100,47,974 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in these constituencies, including 54,40,131 men and 46,07,843 women.

There are, in all, 568 candidates in the fray, including 58 women, in these 42 constituences spread over eight districts, official sources said.

The bye-election for the Banka Lok Sabha seat, which fell vacant because of the death of sitting MP Digvijay Singh on June 24 this year, will also be held tomorrow.

Voting will take place between 7am and 5pm in most places and the process will be over by 3pm in sensitive areas. Four seats in Patna will poll as well. The Election Commission has deployed 60,000 staff for 10,716 booths while 13,225 ballot units, attached to 11,790 EVMs, have been despatched to these polling stations.

The EC is using four helicopters — two MI-17s and two Dhruvas — which will operate from Patna, Munger and Bhagalpur. Central forces are present in all booths in the Red bastion and 85% of the booths will be guarded by armed jawans.

Along with air surveillance, mounted police and road patrolling parties will guard the booths. Since most constituencies are along the banks of the Ganga, Sone and Punpun, the administration has started river patrolling as well.

Police are in position in 27 localities, including Pandarak, Sherpur, Shahpur, Akilpur and Haldiopur-Chhapra along the diara (island) areas of the Ganga. On Sunday, security forces staged a flag march in Gardanibagh, Digha and Kotwali as all the urban areas of Patna are going to polls on Monday. Excise department officials have sealed liquor shops and asked beer bars to keep shut until Tuesday morning.

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