Thirteen constituencies in six districts of Jharkhand will go to Assembly polls in the first phase tomorrow. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is expected to face a strong challenge from the opposition alliance of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in the five-phase polling.
A total of 37,83,055 electorate, including 18,01,356 women and five third gender voters, who are eligible to exercise their franchise will decide the fate of 189 candidates in the first phase. Seats for which polling will take place are Chatra, Gumla, Bishunpur, Lohardaga, Manika, Latehar, Panki, Daltonganj, Bishrampur, Chhatarpur, Hussainabad, Garhwa and Bhawanathpur.
Sudesh Mahto-headed All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU), which was an ally of BJP in the last assembly polls, has fielded its candidates in Lohardaga, which is its sitting seat, Hussainabad, and Chhatarpur. Shivpujan Mehta, who won from Hussainabad as a BSP nominee in the 2014 polls, is trying to defend his seat on AJSU ticket. Former chief minister Babu Lal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikash Morcha (JVM) is contesting the elections on its own.
Voting will take place across 3,906 polling stations, out of which 989 will have webcasting facilities, an Election Commission release said. Polling personnel, deputed in remote areas, were being airlifted, EC officials said. Monitoring exercise is being carried out by flying squads to prevent violation of the Model Code of Conduct, such as distribution of cash, liquor and other inducements, the officials said.
By dialling 1950, voters will be able to register complaints on poll-related issues, they said. The BJP is contesting in 12 seats in the first phase, while it is supporting Independent Vinod Singh from Hussainabad. The opposition alliance of the JMM, Congress and RJD is contesting in four, six and three constituencies, respectively.
Prominent candidates in the fray are BJP nominee and Jharkhand Health Minister Ramchandra Chandravanshi and Jharkhand PCC president and ex-IPS officer Rameshwar Oraon. Oraon is taking on ex-PCC chief Sukhdeo Bhagat after the latter joined the BJP recently. Former BJP chief whip Radhakrishna Kishore, who was denied ticket from Chhatarpur, is contesting on AJSU party ticket from the same seat.
Polling will begin at 7 am and conclude at 3 pm, the release said. Elections in Jharkhand will be held in five phases and the results will be declared on December 23.
For BJP the main campaigners in the first phase included Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel campaigned for the alliance candidates on Wednesday.