An estimated 28.51 per cent polling was recorded till 11 am on Saturday in the second phase of Jharkhand assembly elections in 20 constituencies, amid sporadic incidents of violence in some districts, officials said. The voting commenced at 7 am amid tight security arrangements, officials said. Polling in 18 seats will end at 3 pm, while voters in Jamshedpur (East) -- where Chief Minister Raghubar Das is in fray -- and Jamshedpur (West) constituencies can exercise their franchise till 5 pm, an Election Commission (EC) release said.
One person was injured when security personnel opened fire on a group of men who tried to snatch weapons from them in Gumla's Sisai constituency, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Murari Lal Meena said
He said personnel of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) had to open fire on the men, after they attempted to grab hold of their weapons near booth number 36 in the constituency. The injured person has been admitted to hospital and his condition is stated to be out of danger, said Meena, who is also the nodal officer for the assembly election-related security measures.
In West Singhbhum district, Maoists torched an empty bus near Jojo Hatu village in Chaibasa constituency, Superintendent of Police Inderjeet Mahata said. The ADGP, however, said polling is continuing peacefully and there is no other report of any untoward incident so far.
Assembly Speaker Dinesh Oraon (Sisai), Rural Development Minister Neelkanth Singh Munda (Khunti) and BJP's state unit president Laxman Gilua (Chakradharpur) were among the early voters.
A large number of people were also seen in queues waiting for their turn in Baharagora and Chaibasa constituencies, braving cold conditions, the officials said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier in the day tweeted, urging voters to come out in large numbers to exercise their franchise.
A total 48,25,038 voters, including 23,93,437 female and 90 third gender voters, are eligible to vote to decide the fate of 260 candidates, including 29 women nominees and 73 independents.
According to police sources, more than 42,000 security personnel, including central forces, have been deployed on the 20 seats spread across seven districts.
"Several of the constituencies going for this phase of polling are Naxal-affected. So, armed police have been deployed as a part of security measures," Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer Vinay Kumar Choubey said.
Out of a total of 6,066 polling stations, 949 have been declared 'critical' and 762 'sensitive' in Naxal-affected areas, he said. The CEO said that 101 polling stations have been relocated due to security reasons, and free transport facility has been arranged for voters to reach these stations.
Webcasting facilities has been made available at 1,662 polling stations, he said. The assembly segments going to polls in the second phase are: Baharagora, Ghatsila, Potka, Jugsalai, Jamshedpur (East), Jamshedpur (West), Seraikela, Chaibasa, Majhgaon, Jaganathpur, Manoharpur, Chakradharpur, Kharsawan, Tamar, Torpa, Khunti, Mandar, Sisai, Simdega and Kolebira.
Sixteen of the 20 constituencies are reserved for Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates and one for Scheduled Caste (SC).
BJP leader and Chief Minister Raghubar Das is facing challenge from his former cabinet colleague and Independent candidate Saryu Roy from the Jamshedpur (East) seat. The saffron party's state unit president Laxman Gilua, who lost the Lok Sabha elections from Singhbhum seat, is contesting from Chakradharpur.
The BJP is contesting in all the 20 constituencies in the second phase, while the opposition alliance of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Congress is contesting in 14 and six seats, respectively.
The RJD, which got a total of seven seats as per the seat-sharing formula of the opposition combine, has no candidate in this round. NDA ally AJSU party, which is contesting the assembly elections on its own for the first time since the creation of the state, has fielded candidates from 12 constituencies in this phase.
The Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) has nominated leaders in all the 20 seats, and the Bahujan Samaj Party in 14 segments. The CPI is contesting in two seats, the CPI(M) in one seat and the NCP in two.
Six candidates of the All India Trinamool Congress are also in the fray in the second round. The first of the five-phase polling for 13 constituencies had concluded on November 30. The rest of the three phases will be held on December 12, 16 and 20.
Counting will take place on December 23.