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Bihar elections: Minister clarifies why he wore lotus-print mask (LEAD)

Gaya : Senior BJP leader and Bihar Agriculture Minister Prem Kumar has given a clarification after a controversy erupted over his arrival at a polling booth wearing a lotus flower print mask. The Election Commission has also indicated it will act on this.

Kumar says his action was unintentional. “It was not my intention to generate a controversy and nobody pointed it out to me either. Since I was really busy, I didn’t take off the mask when I went to vote,” said the minister.

Kumar is the BJP candidate from Gaya and has been elected six times from the seat.

Kumar had arrived on Wednesday to cast his vote by bicycle at polling booth on Road No. 120 in Swarajpuri. He exercised his franchise wearing a lotus-printed mask. He did not remove the lotus mask even while casting his vote, sparking a controversy over whether it was a violation of the code of conduct.

Bihar Chief Electoral Officer H. R. Srinivas said, action will be taken if anyone violates the model code of conduct. Srinivas said that the officials at Gaya are looking into the matter.

In Bihar, polling is being held at 71 seats in 16 districts in the first phase while two more phases are scheduled for November 3 and November 7.

Counting of votes will be held on November 10.

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