24.97 per cent polling till noon in 8 LS seats of Bihar

An estimated 24.97 per cent of over 1.52 crore voters exercised their franchise till noon in eight Lok Sabha seats of Bihar on Sunday in the final phase of the staggered general election, an official said.

Polling, which began at 7 am, is currently underway at 15,811 booths in the eight seats - Nalanda, Patna Sahib, Pataliputra, Arrah, Buxar, Jehanabad, Sasaram (SC) and Karakat , amid tight security, he said.

Altogether 157 candidates, including four Union ministers, are in the fray in the seventh phase of the parliamentary polls.

Voting is also underway for bypoll to Dehri Assembly seat, which fell vacant last year upon the disqualification of RJD MLA and former state minister Mohd Ilyas Husain - convicted in the bitumen scam by a Ranchi court.

Barring a few instances of EVM glitches, polling has been peaceful so far with no untoward incidents reported from any of the constituencies, the election official said.

"Going by the reports that reached us from district headquarters, we have found out that the voting process was temporarily hampered at few polling stations in Ara, Sasaram, Jehanabad, Pataliputr and Buxar. The officials have attended to the complaints and redressed all grievances," he said.

Of the eight Lok Sabha seats, Jehanabad recorded the maximum turnout at 35 per cent, followed by Pataliputra at 27.40 per cent, Karakat at 25 per cent, Sasaram (SC) at 24.30 per cent, Nalanda at 23.43 per cent and Buxar at 23 per cent.

Patna Sahib and Arrah registered the lowest turnouts till noon at 22.86 per cent and 21.13 per cent respectively.

Prominent candidates whose electoral fate will be sealed in Sunday's polling include Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, his Congress rival and actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha (Patna Sahib), Union minister Ram Kripal Yadav and his RJD rival Misa Bharti (Pataliputra), Central ministers Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Buxar) and R K Singh (Ara) and former Lok Sabha Speaker and senior Congress leader Meira Kumar (Sasaram).

People of all age groups were seen standing in long queues outside the polling booths even before the voting process began at 7am.

Among the early voters in the capital city were Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.