"It is for the first time in Bihar that a Mahadalit candidate, Purnmasi Ram, is contesting from a general seat - Valmiki Nagar. He is the Congress candidate."
Patna, May 12 - Braving the scorching summer heat, over four and a half million people - more than half of the electorate - Monday voted in Bihar's six Lok Sabha constituencies in the last phase of India's general elections, officials said.
Nearly 54 percent turnout was reported by 4.30 p.m., said Additional Chief Electoral Officer R. Lakshmanan.
Voting was peaceful except for a few incidents of clashes between rival groups, he said.
Ruling Janata Dal-United legislator Amrendra Kumar Pandey allegedly beat up a voter at a booth in Gopalganj constituency, following which the administration ordered his arrest.
In Vaishali, police chased away supporters of two candidates after they clashed near a polling booth.
In East Champaran, JD-U candidate Avnish Singh faced angry villagers when he allegedly tried to threaten a voter.
At several places in Valmiki Nagar, Vaishali, Gopalganj and Siwan, villagers boycotted the polls over lack of electricity and roads.
Lakshmanan said voters, particularly women, turned up early in large numbers and long queues were seen at polling booths.
In some places, people were spotted at the booths even before the start of polling.
People ignored the scorching summer sun to exercise their democratic right.
According to the Met department, the heat conditions have become stronger in the last few days with the maximum temperature rising to between 41 and 44 degrees Celsius.
The constituencies where voting took place were Valmiki Nagar, West Champaran, East Champaran, Vaishali, Gopalganj and Siwan.
Among the prominent candidates in the fray in the state 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 and Raghunath Jha of the Rashtriya Janata Dal. In Siwan, Hena Sahab - is contesting against the BJP's 2009 poll winner Om Prakash Yadav.
In Vaishali, RJD's Raghuvansh Prasad Singh faces Lok Janshakti Party 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 candidate, Purnmasi Ram, is contesting from a general seat - Valmiki Nagar. He is the Congress candidate.
The voting is taking place at 8,582 polling stations where over nine million people are eligible to vote.