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43% cast vote in Bihar in phase one: EC

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Last updated on: October 18, 2005 20:25 IST

Bihar registered 43% votes in the first round of the four phased elections. This was announced by Anand Kumar, deputy election commissioner at a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday after the polls were completed in the 57 assembly seats.

"This is a tentative figure and it could go up when we get final data," he said.

He also announced that three Rashtriya Janata Dal candidates and their supporters were arrested for trying to disrupt polls and carrying arms and amunition in the polling booths.

"The three candidates arrested are Sanjay Prabhat, Suresh Paswan and Vijay Prabh Yadav. Sanjay Paswan was arrested for trying to damage the electronic voting machine in booth no. 241 in Govindpur. The polling was by and large peaceful and one person was killed when military police opened fire on a group of people trying to resort to booth capturing in Chorram in Dawood Nagar in Aurangabad district. The two deaths, which the media had been reporting had taken place prior to the polling on Tuesday in Navada and Jehanabad," he said.

Polls for four assembly seats in Gaya district has been split into two parts. The first round of polling took place on Tuesday and the rest of the polling would take place on October 21.

Over 1,23,35,006 people exercised their franchise in the first phase of the polls that has sealed the fate of 541 candidates including 37 female candidates who are also in the fray. The commission had set up 13,769 polling booths and used 17,483 electronic voting machines.

In eight polling stations, people did not cast even a single vote to register their protest.

"The low voting percentage is due to fatigue of the elections, strict security measures and fear of getting caught for bogus voting. We have arrested 96 persons from various parts of the state where the polling was held on Tuesday for attempting to disrupt polling and trying to capture booths. One patrolling magistrate was suspended for trying to influence the voters in Shahpur in Bhojpur constitutency," he said.

The commission clarified that it had allowed the Railway Ministry to run special trains to Bihar as last year to cater to the rush of passengers during the festival season. "There is no poll irregularity in this," he clarified when asked if Lalu Prasad Yadav's decision to run special trains to Bihar would amount to breach of the model code of conduct.

The commission explained that it did not send polling parties to four polling stations in Gaya as it had prior information that these parties would be attacked by the Naxals.

At two places, the polling parties though dispatched could not reach their destination. "As far as the repolling is concerned, we would announce it in due course after going through the reports. We are also awaiting reports on the two Central Reserve Police Force officers of the rank of inspector general and deputy inspector general who had gone to meet Lalu Yadav. Any action can be taken against them after receiving the reports," he said. The commission had directed the CRPF chief to replace the officers soon after it received a complaint against them.

Earlier in the day, a Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist supporter was shot dead, five persons injured and three Rashtriya Janata Party candidates arrested in poll-related incidents.

CPI-ML supporter Musafir Paswan was shot dead at Kashibigha village minutes before polling began.

However, the state police chief Ashish Ranjan Sinha said it was not related to the election.

Five persons were injured in clashes between RJD and JD-U workers at Sarangpur, Singhi and Madhuaon in Shahpur constituency from where RJD national spokesman and former minister Shivanand Tiwari is in the fray.

The RJD candidate for Aurangabad Suresh Mehta was detained for trying to intimidate voters, the sources said.

The sources said booth capturing led to cancellation of polling at booth numbers 190 and 191 in Nawada constituency.

The Election Commission's Special Advisor K J Rao had rushed to the spot. Supporters of rival candidates opened fire and hurled bombs at Kamalpur in the same constituency, but none was injured.

Supporters of rival parties clashed at two booths in Chakai constituency in which a few persons injured.

Security personnel seized eight motorcycles from booth grabbers at Badahara in the same area. Earlier, polling was cancelled in four booths in Imamganj constituency in Gaya district due to inadequate security.

Polling will be held there on October 21, District Magistrate Sandeep Poundrik said.

Onkar Singh in New Delhi and Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna