Patna: Around 18% polling was registered till 10am on Monday in the bypoll to Jokihat assembly seat in Bihar, a top election official said. Tight security arrangements are in place to ensure free and fair polls to the assembly seat, which fell vacant after the resignation of sitting MLA Sarfaraz Alam.

The bypoll is being viewed as a test of strength between Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) and the RJD of Lalu Prasad. Altogether 2.70 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of nine candidates contesting from this seat in Araria district.

Having won the seat in 2015 on a JD(U) ticket, Alam switched over to the RJD in March this year and got elected to the Lok Sabha from Araria in a bypoll necessitated by the death of his father Mohd Taslimuddin.

Taslimuddin himself had represented Jokihat in the Bihar assembly for a record five times. His younger son Shahnawaz Alam has been fielded by the RJD, while the JD(U) candidate is Murshid Alam, a former Panchayat Mukhiya.

Although the contest is primarily between these two candidates, six Independents, besides Ghousul Azam—who represents controversial Madhepura MP Pappu Yadav’s fledgling outfit Jan Adhikar Party—are also in the fray.