The 3rd phase of elections was held on October 28, covering six districts of Bihar, to elect 50 candidates to the Bihar Legislative Assembly 2015.
The 3rd phase of voting witnessed a total voter turnout of 53.32%. In fact, all districts in this phase recorded an improved voter turnout over 2010 assembly elections. The combined average of voter turnout in phase 1 and 2 was 55.67%. Previously, the voter turnout in 2010 was 50.08%, and was 50.27% during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The trend seen earlier was continued through the 3rd phase, with women voters turning out to vote in higher numbers than men. 54% of women voters voted, as against 52.50% for men.
Buxar district recorded the highest voter turnout at 56.58%, while the lowest was in Patna at 51.82%. Although Patna was the lowest amongst all districts in the 3rd phase, it was still higher than the 2010 assembly polls which saw 48.47% voter turnout, and in 2014 it recorded 50.53%.
Repoll was held for PS 131- Banka in Banka district, and PS 188-Chakai in Jamui district. Banka polling station recorded 71.34% voter turnout, while Chakai polling station recorded 75.57%.
During this phase, voting was boycotted by voters in 4 polling stations to protest ‘lack of development’. They included the following:
• PS 141 Amnour in Saran district
• PS 167 Parsa in Saran district
• PS 249 Barh in Patna district
• PS 22 Rajpur in Buxar district
The polls were mostly peaceful and without any major incident. The next phase (4th round) of polls is due on Sunday, 1 November 2015.
Voting percentage in 2010 / 2015 / Difference
• Saran: 49.33% / 52.50% / 3.17%
• Vaishali: 53.81% / 54.82% / 1.01%
• Nalanda: 48.51% / 54.11% / 5.6%
• Patna: 48.47% / 51.82% / 3.35%
• Bhojpur: 50.46% / 53.80% / 3.34%
• Buxar: 52.69% / 56.58% / 3.89%
Total cumulative: 50.08% / 53.32% / 3.24%
Interpreting the voter turnout in the districts
Buxar recorded the highest voter turnout at 56.58%, which is 3.89% higher than in 2010 assembly elections. Within the district, Rajpur, which is a reserved seat for Scheduled Caste, recorded the highest turnout at 57.81%. The lowest turnout recorded within the district was 55.14% in Brahampur.
Buxar is a BJP stronghold and in 2010 assembly elections the seat was won by Prof Sukhada Pande- BJP who defeated Shyam Lal Singh Kushwaha- RJD by a margin of 20,183 votes. However, this time BJP is fielding Pradeep Dubey who will be taking on Sanjay Kumar Tiwari a.k.a. Munna Tiwari- INC, who is fighting his first election and is the son of former Union minister K.K.Tiwari – INC. RJD has decided to let Congress fight for this seat. Both candidates will be up against some strong competition from Bhagwati Prasad Srivastava- CPI, and Dhirendra Kumar Choudhary – CPM.
Vaishali recorded the second highest voter turnout at 54.82%, which is 1.01% higher than in 2010 assembly elections. Within the district, the highest voter turnout was recorded at 57% in both Lalganj and Raghopur. The lowest was 51% in Hajipur, which also happens to be a stronghold of Ram Vilas Paswan.
In 2010 assembly elections, Vaishali seat was won by Brishin Patel- JD(U) who defeated Veena Shahi- RJD by 12,828 votes. This year, sitting MLA Brishin Patel is contesting from HAM-S and his fight will mainly be with Raj Kishore Singh- JD(U) and Sigweshwar Bhagat- SUCI(C).
Nalanda recorded the 3rd highest voter turnout at 54.11%, which is 5.60% higher than in 2010. This is also the highest percentage improvement amongst all 6 districts that went to poll in the 3rd phase. Within the district, Harnaut recorded the highest turnout at 54.80%, while the lowest was recorded at 53.90%, in both Rajgir (SC) and Hilsa.
In 2010 assembly elections, Shrawon Kumar- JD(U) defeated Arun Kumar- RJD by 21,037 votes. Mahagathbandhan has decided to repose its faith in Shrawon Kumar- JD(U) by backing him to take on Kaushlendra Kumar- BJP a.k.a Chote Mukhiya and one time his close associate. Interestingly, JMM is also in the fray with Deo Kumar trying his luck.
Bhojpur recorded the next highest voter turnout at 54.80%, which is 3.34% improvement over 2010 polls. Within the district, Barhara recorded the highest voter turnout at 56%, while Agiaon (SC) recorded the lowest turnout at 51%.
Arrah is an important constituency in Bhojpur district. In 2010 assembly elections, Amrendra Pratap Singh- BJP defeated Shree Kumar Singh- LJP by a margin of 18,940 votes. He is once again the BJP candidate from Arrah and his main fight will be with Mohammad Nawaz Alam- RJD. Alam is expected to give a strong fight to Amrendra Pratap Singh- BJP but the spoiler for him could be Sidhanath Rai- SP who could end up splitting votes for Alam which could in turn favour the BJP candidate.
Saran recorded the second lowest voter turnout at 52.50%, which is 3.17% higher than in 2010 assembly elections. Within the district, the highest voter turnout was recorded at 58% in Marhaura, while Taraiya recorded the lowest at 49%.
Chapra is an important constituency in Saran district. During the 2014 Assembly bypolls, RJD candidate Randhir Kumar Singh won the seat. His main fight this time is with Dr CN Gupta- BJP who runs a popular hospital in Chapra. Both candidates have a major problem of rebels who are likely to split votes for each candidate, respectively.
Causing a headache for Randhir Kumar Singh-RJD is rebel Udit Rai, who is contesting as an independent candidate. He happens to be a close associate of Lalu Prasad and has a sizeable following in Chapra.
On the other hand, Kanhaiya Singh, a former BJP candidate, is contesting as an independent as he was sidelined in favour of Dr CN Gupta. He too, is likely to split votes that could go against the BJP.
Patna district recorded the lowest voter turnout at 51.82%, which was 3.35% higher than in 2010 polls. It is disappointing that despite being the state capital, where the political awareness and activity is maximum, people have not come out in greater numbers to vote. This only reinforces the view that rural areas are more committed to change than urban areas. Within the district, the highest voter turnout was recorded at 58% in Masaurhi (SC), while Digha recorded the lowest at 46.20%.
Patna Sahib has been a BJP stronghold for some time. In 2010, five times MLA Nand Kishore Yadav, BJP, defeated the INC candidate Parvej Ahmad by a massive margin of 65,337 votes. BJP has once again reposed its faith in Nand Kishore Yadav and his main fight will be with Santosh Mehta- RJD, who is a former BJP party worker and a close associate of Nand Kishore Yadav.
Though the contest appears to be one-sided in favour of the BJP candidate, Santosh Mehta could well put up a strong fight. It may be noted that sitting MP from Patna Sahib, Shatrughan Sinha- BJP, has been publicly expressing his unhappiness with the party functioning and for ignoring him in these elections. He has a considerable following in Patna Sahib constituency and his non-participation in these elections may well go in favour of debutant Santosh Mehta- RJD.