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Voting begins for crucial third phase of Bihar polls

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Patna: Voting began for 50 seats in the high-stake third phase of the five-phase Assembly polls, which has RJD president Lalu Prasad’s two sons as candidates, this morning amid tight security arrangement.

Voting started at scheduled 7 AM in 14,170 polling stations spread in six districts of Patna, Vaishali, Saran, Nalanda, Buxar and Bhojpur districts.

Polling would end at 4 PM in 10 constituencies due to security reasons and at 5 PM in the rest 40 constituencies, Additional Chief Electoral Officer R Lakshamanan said.

An electorate of 1,45,93,980 voters would exercise their franchise in the third phase, including 78,51,593 male voters and 67,06,687 female voters.

A total of 808 candidates are in the fray, out of which 71 are female.

The two sons of Lalu Prasad, Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejaswi Yadav, are contesting from Mahua and Raghopur seats respectively.

The former chief minister’s political turf Saran, which has 10 Assembly seats, and the seven-seat Nalanda, home district of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, will be covered in the third phase.

Of the total 14,170 polling stations, 6,747 have been declared as critical and 1,909 as Left Wing Extremist hit polling stations.

All the booths are manned by central forces and live webcasting would be done from 716 polling stations.

The prominent politicians, other than the two sons of Lalu Prasad, whose fate would be decided in this round are BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav (Patna Sahib), ministers Shyam Rajak and Shrawan Kumar from Phulwari and Nalanda seats respectively, Deputy Speaker Amarendra Pratap Singh (Ara) and BJP’s chief whip in the state Assembly Arun Kumar Sinha (Kumhrar).

As many as 1,107 companies of Central Para Military Forces and state police would be deployed on the day to ensure peaceful voting. While 50 mounted police force are deployed in general areas, 47 motor boats have been pressed into services for patrolling the riverine areas, Lakshamanan said.

In the last Assembly poll in 2010 JD(U) had won 23 seats while BJP had won on 19 out of the 50 constituencies.

Eight was with RJD of Lalu Prasad. But this time with a change in equation the scene is different.

From grand secular alliance, RJD is contesting on maximum 25 seats, JD(U) 18 and Congress 7.

From NDA, BJP is fighting on 34, LJP 10, Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) 4 and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) 2.

–PTI