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Bihar Election: Voting for first phase begins amid pandemic

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Voting for the first phase of Bihar election began on Wednesday. Under the first phase, voting in 71 Assembly constituencies is being held amid tight security and COVID-19 safety protocols.

The data provided by the Election Commission provides that nearly 2.15 crore electors are eligible to exercise their voting rights. Of this, 1.12 crore are male, 1.01 crore female and 599 are categorised as the third gender.

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

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Bihar voters to follow safety protocols related to COVOD-19 while exercising their franchise.

33 sensitive constituencies in first phase

As many as 33 of the constituencies going to polls in the first phase have been declared as “sensitive or hypersensitive” constituencies, the poll panel said.

It said 31,371 polling stations have been set up in this phase and as many Electronic Voting Machines and Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines will be used.

Safety guidelines for Bihar election

Guidelines have been issued by the commission for safely conducting Bihar elections amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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

Also Read: Nearly 80 lakh cases, over 1.2 lakh deaths due to COVID-19 in India

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.

Announcing the election schedule for the 243-member assembly on September 25, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had said that polls will open as usual at 7 am but the voting hour will be extended by one hour until 6 pm, except in the Left Wing Extremism affected areas, so that COVID-19 patients can vote in the last hour of the day.

“Bihar assembly polls will be one of the biggest elections globally to be held during prevailing Covid-19 situation,” Arora had said.

Safety arrangement

Additional director general of police (headquarters) Jitendra Kumar said that security forces have been deployed in adequate strength at all polling stations and the buildings housing them.

The local police have also been 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.

He said special security arrangements have been made for the Naxal-affected areas. Most of the state’s Naxal-hit areas are going to polls in the first phase. The administration will keep an aerial vigil also and one helicopter will be used for the purpose.

 

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