Voting for the first phase elections in Jharkhand today by and large passed away peacefully apart from some minor incidents. Almost 63 per cent votes were cast around 3:00 pm.
Fierce battle ahead
The fierce battle in Jharkhand assembly polls for the first phase of 13 constituencies in six Maoist hit districts began on Saturday. The ruling BJP has to salvage its pride in Jharkhand after the catastrophe in Maharashtra and Haryana. This time BJP is contesting elections all alone but facing a stiff challenge from the troika of Congress, RJD and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).
Jharkhand polls a hurdle to cross
Before Delhi assembly elections, this is the last citadel for the saffron outfit to save it. Of late in the recently concluded by-elections in West Bengal TMC swept all the three seats. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed that ‘it was the victory of the people’.
Polling starts at 7 am
Polling in Jharkhand commenced at 7:00 am and concluded around 3:00 pm. A total of 37,83,055 electorate, including 18,01,356 women and five third-gender voters were eligible to cast their vote in the first out of the five-phase of elections. Overall the fate of 189 candidates, including 15 women are hanging in balance after the conclusion of first phase of polling.
Not easy for key candidates
The fate of key candidates like the BJP’s Health Minister Ramchandra Chandravanshi from Bishrampur and state Congress president Rameshwar Oraon from Lohardaga is on the line. Oraon is contesting against the former state Congress chief Sukhdeo Bhagat, who later joined the BJP recently. The ruling party is seeking to come in power for the second consecutive time. The BJP has been contesting in 12 seats in the first phase, while on the Hussainabad seat the saffron party is supporting an independent candidate Vinod Singh.
Alliance looks formidable
Meanwhile, the Congress has fielded six candidates in the first phase. Its ally the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have been fighting in four and three constituencies respectively in the first phase.
Eyes on anti-social elements
Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer Vinay Kumar Choubey said a total of 4,892 polling stations have been set up, out of which 1,262 would have webcasting facilities.’ Additional Director General of Police and state police Nodal Officer Murari Lal Meena said a total of 1,097 polling stations in Naxal-affected areas were marked as hypersensitive and 461 polling stations as sensitive.
The rest of the four phases elections for the 81 constituencies assembly would be held on December 7, 12, 16 and 20. Results would be declared on December 23.
Naxalites blew up a bridge in Gumla district’s Bishnupur while voting was underway for the first phase of elections. Deputy Commissioner Shashi Ranjan, however, said that no one was injured and polling had not been affected. Minor clash also took place between two factions near Kosiyara polling station in Daltonganj assembly constituency. The agitators damaged the police vehicles. Police and administration quickly controlled the situation.
Use of postal ballot
For the first time during the five-phase assembly polls, nearly 498,000 senior citizens and disabled people of Jharkhand will exercise their franchise from their homes through postal ballot. Jharkhand’s chief electoral officer (CEO), Vinay Kumar Choubey, said that the poll body has made provisions for voting through postal ballot for senior citizens above the age of 80 years and persons with disability (PWD).
Ruling party and opposition both are claiming to form the government in Jharkhand. Chief minister Raghuber Das has set a target of 65 plus in his mind. While the opposition is upbeat and ready to turn the table in this election. The fact is that uncertainty is looming in Jharkhand, at the outset it seems no party is going to get full majority. Poll predictors and media persons are tight-lipped to a certain extent because no one is a hot favourite.