Bihar Assembly Polls: 71 constituencies poll in 1st phase amid COVID-19 guidelines

PTI

Patna: Voters show their identity cards as they stand in queues at a polling station to cast their votes for the first phase Bihar Assembly Elections, at Paliganj in Patna, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Patna: Voters show their identity cards as they stand in queues at a polling station to cast their votes for the first phase Bihar Assembly Elections, at Paliganj in Patna, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Polling ended on Wednesday in 71 assembly constituencies of Bihar in the first phase of three-phase elections amid tight security and COVID-19 guidelines in place.

53% of polling was recorded in the state in the first phase.

Of the nearly 2.15 crore electors eligible to exercise the franchise, 1.12 crore are male, 1.01 crore female and 599 are categorised as third gender, according to data provided by the Election Commission.

Guidelines were issued by the Commission for safe conduct of the electoral exercise in the midst of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

These guidelines included lowering the maximum number of voters for a polling booth from 1,600 to 1,000, staggering of polling hours and extending postal ballot facility for those above 80.

Besides, sanitisation of electronic voting machines, wearing of masks and other protective gear by polling personnel and the availability of thermal scanner, hand sanitiser, soap and water has also to be ensured at polling stations.

The candidates in the fray in the first phase included 952 men and 114 women.

As many as 33 of the constituencies that went to polls in the first phase were declared as sensitive or hypersensitive constituencies, the poll panel said.

31,371 polling stations were set up for this phase and as many Electronic Voting Machines and Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines were used.

Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters) Jitendra Kumar earlier told PTI-Bhasha that security forces have been deployed in adequate strength at all polling stations and the buildings housing them.

The local police will be used to supplement the paramilitary forces wherever required, he said, adding the services of home guard jawans will also be taken at polling stations for works like maintaining the queue.

He said that as a precautionary measure, all security personnel deployed on poll duty have been given a coronavirus kit which has a face mask, gloves, a face shield and sanitisers.

Special security arrangements were made for the Naxal-affected areas. Most of the state’s Naxal-hit areas went to poll today.

Polls opened as usual at 7 am but the voting hour was extended by one hour until 6 pm, except in the Left Wing Extremism affected areas, so that COVID-19 patients could cast their vote in the last hour of the day.