An estimated 8 to 10 per cent of over 1.3 crore voters exercised their franchise by 10.00 AM in 62 of the 243 assembly constituencies of Bihar where polling is underway in the second phase of the four-phase elections on Wednesday, state election office sources said.
No untoward incident has been reported from anywhere so far. Long queues of voters were seen in front of polling stations since early morning.
There were reports of defects in electronic voting machines from some places, including Lakhisarai, Muzaffarpur, Korha, Lalganj, Pirpainti, Dhamdaha and Sultanganj constituencies that were promptly rectified.
Political heavyweights, whose fate would be decided on wednesday, are former Chief Minister Rabri Devi (RJD), state Congress president Sadanand Singh, senior BJP leader Ashwani Kumar Choubey, former Leader of Opposition Upendra Prasad Kushwaha (JD-U), former Minister Ramai Ram (RJD), Monajir Hasan (JD-U), Pashupati Kumar Paras (LJP) and Veena Shahi (Congress).
Polling began at 7.30 AM Wednesday morning, closely monitored by the Election Commission.
In all, 12.7 million voters would decide the fate of 492 candidates, including 186 independents and 40 women, in 13,992 polling booths spread across 11 districts.
According to Bihar Chief Election Officer N K Sinha almost 90 per cent of the booths are being covered by Central Para Military Force jawans.
The areas not easily accessible and falling in diyara (riverine) belt or locked between two riverbeds, are being compulsorily manned by the CPMF jawans.
Four Indian Air Force choppers have also been pressed into service for air patrolling.
About 5,000 digital cameras have been installed to prevent bogus voting and detect any irregularity, specially in those polling booths not manned by the CPMF.
Shoot-at-sight orders have been issued and red alert sounded in the districts adjoining India-Nepal border, while aerial and marine surveillance were being carried out by four IAF helicopters and eight motorboats, equipped with sophisticated weapons and manned by trained personnel.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal and Lok Janshakti Party are contesting about 58 seats each in the second phase, the Bahujan Samajwadi Party 53, the Janata Dal (United) 41, the Samajawadi Party 38, the Bharatuya Janata Party 26, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) 22, the Congress 15, the CPI 11, the CPI (Marxist) 5 and and the Nationalist Congress Party 3.
Elections in seven constituencies have been deferred mainly for security reasons. Polling would be held in these seats on October 29.
In the first phase on October 18, altogether 57 constituencies went to the polls in the extremism -affected 12 districts to decide the fate of 541 candidates.