A voter turnout of between a high 28% in West Bengal to a low 13.9% in Jharkhand was recorded in the first three hours of polling in the sixth phase of elections in 23 Lok Sabha seats in four states of eastern India. Polling was 17% in Assam and 15% in Bihar.
Altogether 332 candidates were contesting the 23 seats in the four states.
Election office sources in the four states said that polling was peaceful with a number of EVMs being replaced because of malfunction.
Prominent candidates in Bihar were BJP's Shahnawaz Hussain, the party's lone Muslim face in the outgoing Lok Sabha (Bhagalpur), NCP General Secretary Tariq Anwar (Katihar) and former union minister and RJD leader Mohd Taslimuddin.
A total 108 candidates were in the fray in Supual, Araria, Kisanganj, Katihar, Purnia, Banka and Bhagalpur in the state. Stakes were high for BJP as five of the seven seats were won by the party last time in 2009. One each was held by rivals Congress and JD(U). The five held by BJP were Araria, Katihar, Purnia, Bhagalpur and Banka. Kisangnaj was won by Congress and Supaul had gone to JD(U).
In West Bengal, Abhijit Mukherjee, son of President Pranab Mukherjee, Union minister Deepa Dasmunshi, Mamata Banerjee's bete noire, MP Mausam Noor, Abu Hashem Khan Chowdhury, all of Congress, were key contenders among the 78 candidates. Abhijit had won the Jangipur seat by a slender margin of 2,536 votes in the 2012 by-election when his father Pranab Mukherjee vacated the seat to become the President. Five of the six seats - Raiganj, Maldaha Uttar, Maldaha Dakshin, Jangipur and Murshidabad were won by Congress in the 2009 general elections, which it fought in alliance with TMC, while RSP had won the Balurghat seat. The elections would indicate whether Congress would be able to retain its north Bengal bastion, or whether Trinamool Congress would make inroads.
In Jharkhand, among the 72 candidates contesting were former chief ministers Shibu Soren of JMM, Babulal Marandi of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) and BJP's Sunil Soren. The four seats where polling was being held were Dhanbad, Dumka, Raj Mahal and Godda.
Among the 74 candidates in Assam were AIUDF chief and sitting MP Badruddin Ajmal, Congress candidate Wazed Ali Choudhury and BJP's Debamoy Sanyal, Assam Tourism minister Chandan Brahma of BPF and sitting BPF MP S K Bwismuthiary. Polling was being held in Kokrajhar(ST), Dhubri, Barpeta, Mangaldoi, Gauhati and Nowgong.