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Lok Sabha polls second phase: Bihar's Muslim-dominated constituencies see record high 65.52% voting

Patna: A record high voting percentage in the second phase of voting in Bihar, covering five constituencies on Thursday, indicated that despite comparatively low literacy rate in Seemanchal region, people participated in the festival of democracy with enthusiasm.

On the whole, 62.52 percent voting was recorded in five constituencies: Kishanganj, Purnia, Katihar, Banka and Bhagalpur, with highest 68.20 percent in Katihar and over 64 percent in Purnia and Kishanganj.

 Lok Sabha polls second phase: Bihars Muslim-dominated constituencies see record high 65.52% voting

Representational image. Image courtesy: 101Reporters

In the second phase of voting, Congress, from the mahagathbandhan, and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), from NDA, have greater stakes. The BJP did not fight a single seat and had allotted all of them to JD(U) because the saffron party had lost all of them in 2014.

Incidentally, all these seats, including three in Seemanchal area, have dominant to sizeable population of Muslims. The poll observers said that high polling in Kishanganj might be attributed to youth’s attraction towards All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslmin (AIMIM) headed by firebrand Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi.

Congress is contesting from two seats: Kishanganj and Katihar. The party in 2014 won Kishanganj, which has nearly 70 percent Muslim population, but its MP Asrarul Haq died late last year and Katihar was won by then Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Tariq Anwar. He recently joined Congress and was fighting to retain his seat which sent him to Lok Sabha five times. Congress has also fielded another turncoat Uday Singh from Purnia, who quit BJP and got a ticket from Congress. Singh represented this seat once.

Another stakeholder is AIMIM, whose president Asaduddin Owaisi camped in Kishanganj where he has fielded Akhtarul Iman. Owaisi had fielded a few candidates, including Iman, in Seemanchal area in 2015 Assembly elections, but couldn't win a single seat despite his high-pitched campaigning.

Another important aspect is that BJP allotted Bhagalpur and Banka, the two seats outside Seemanchal region, to JD(U), which led to uneasiness and ripples in the saffron party because its two leaders Shahnawaz Hussain and Putul Devi were left high and dry. Hussain and Devi earlier represented Bhagalpur and Banka respectively.

A seething Putul Devi jumped into poll arena as an Independent. Hussain is sulking and accusing Nitish Kumar of taking away his seat, but he doesn't want to challenge BJP's decision. The presence of Putul Devi, who has been suspended from BJP, has caused apprehension in the JD(U) camp also because her daughter Shreyasi Singh, the Commonwealth Games gold medalist in shooting, actively campaigned for her mother.

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Updated Date: Apr 18, 2019 21:35:15 IST