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End of an era: Argentina football legend Diego Maradona dies        Greg Barclay elected ICC's Independent Chair        Have great respect for Indian bowlers but our batsmen have seen them a lot: Langer        Rupee rises 6 paise to 73.95 against US dollar in early trade        Biden seeks swift Cabinet votes, but GOP Senate stays silent        As virus cases spike, financial outlook for world's airlines dims        Nivar makes landfall, weakens into severe cyclonic storm        Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel passes away at 71        India's COVID-19 caseload goes past 92 lakh; no. of active cases increases by 6,079        Left Govt moves ahead with projects having no central clearances: Chennithala        Kerala Cabinet decides to approach Governor to repeal new ordinance        Kerala reports 5,420 new COVID cases, 5,149 recoveries: CM        Cyclone Nivar : heavy rain lashes Chennai, suburbs, govt holiday today        UP okays ordinance against conversion for marriage, violators face up to 10 yrs in jail        Govts have to work as team to ensure vaccination drive is smooth, sustained: PM Modi        ICC nominates Kohli, Ashwin for Men''s Player of the Decade Award        Rohit, Ishant to miss first two Australia Tests, also doubtful for remaining two: BCCI source        India''s home series against England to feature four Tests instead of five        Odisha pay the penalty as Hyderabad keep first-ever clean sheet        Looking at India squad, Surya could have been there: Brian Lara        
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National News
Polls open in first phase of Bihar elections
 
Patna, Oct 28 (PTI) Polling began Wednesday morning in 71 assembly constituencies of Bihar in the first phase of three-phase elections amid tight security and COVID-19 guidelines in place.

Of the nearly 2.15 crore electors eligible to exercise the franchise, 1.12 crore are male, 1.01 crore female and 599 are categorised as third gender, according to data provided by the Election Commission.

Guidelines have been issued by the Commission for safe conduct of the electoral exercise in the midst of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

These guidelines include lowering the maximum number of voters for a polling booth from 1,600 to 1,000, staggering of polling hours and extending postal ballot facility for those above 80.

Besides, sanitisation of electronic voting machines, wearing of masks and other protective gear by polling personnel and the availability of thermal scanner, hand sanitiser, soap and water has also to be ensured at polling stations.

The candidates in the fray in the first phase include 952 men and 114 women.

As many as 33 of the constituencies going to polls in the first phase have been declared as sensitive or hypersensitive constituencies, the poll panel said.

It said 31,371 polling stations have been set up in this phase and as many Electronic Voting Machines and Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines will be used.

Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters) Jitendra Kumar told PTI-Bhasha that security forces have been deployed in adequate strength at all polling stations and the buildings housing them.

The local police has also been used to supplement the paramilitary forces wherever required, he said, adding the services of home guard jawans will also be taken at polling stations for works like maintaining the queue.

He said that as a precautionary measure, all security personnel deployed on poll duty have been given a coronavirus kit which has a face mask, gloves, a face shield and sanitisers.

He said special security arrangements have been made for the Naxal-affected areas. Most of the state's Naxal-hit areas are going to polls in the first phase, he said.

The administration will keep an aerial vigil also and one helicopter will be used for the purpose, he said.

Announcing the election schedule for the 243-member assembly on September 25, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had said that polls will open as usual at 7 am but the voting hour will be extended by one hour until 6 pm, except in the Left Wing Extremism affected areas, so that COVID-19 patients can vote in the last hour of the day.

"Bihar assembly polls will be one of the biggest elections globally to be held during prevailing COVID-19 situation," Arora had said.


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