Voters turned up early and long queues formed at polling booths in Bihar on Monday as balloting began peacefully for six parliamentary seats in the last phase of India's general election, officials said.
Additional Chief Electoral Officer R. Lakhshaman said long queues were seen in initial two hours and in some places people were spotted at polling booths even before start of the polls in view of scorching sun. "It is a good sign as large number of enthusiastic people have come out of their homes to cast their votes, particularly in rural areas. The polling will pick up in next few hours," he said.
Lakhshaman said about 9 to 10 percent of the electorate excercised their democratic rights till 9 a.m. "So far, the polls are peaceful...with no report of violence," he said.
The constituencies where voting is taking place are Valmiki Nagar, West Champaran, East Champaran, Vaishali, Gopalganj and Siwan.
Among the prominent candidates are former union ministers Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Raghunath Jha, filmmaker Prakash Jha, Hena Sahab, wife of jailed former MP Mohammad Shahabuddin, and Anu Shukla, wife of jailed former legislator Munna Shukla.
In West Champaran, Prakash Jha is pitted against incumbent MP Sanjay Jaiswal of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Raghunath Jha of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). In Siwan, Hena Sahab (RJD) is contesting against BJP's 2009 winner Om Prakash Yadav.
In Vaishali, RJD's Raghuvansh Prasad Singh is fighting it out against Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) candidate Rama Singh. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has won the seat five times in the past. A total of 90 candidates are in the electoral fray.
It is for the first time in Bihar that a Mahadalit, poorest among Dalits, candidate Purnmasi Ram, is contesting from a general seat of Valmikinagar. He is the Congress candidate.
Polling is taking place at 8,582 polling stations where over nine million people are eligible to vote.