An estimated 45.14 per cent of over 56 lakh eligible voters exercised their franchise till 1 pm on Thursday in the third of the five-phase Jharkhand assembly elections in 17 constituencies, officials said. The police said voting is going on peacefully in all the constituencies. Governor Droupadi Murmu cast her vote in Ranchi while senior Congress leader and former Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay was among the early voters at a booth in Khijri assembly constituency.
After casting his vote, Sahay alleged that voting began one-and-a-half hours late in the booth following a glitch in an EVM. Former union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Jayant Sinha also exercised their franchise.
The voting began at 7 am in all the constituencies, amidst a tight security arrangement. While polling at Ranchi, Hatia, Kanke, Barkatha and Ramgarh seats will end at 5 pm, voters in rest of the constituencies can exercise their franchise till 3 pm.
“A total of 56,18,267 voters are eligible to cast votes in the 17 constituencies across eight districts. The voters include a total of 26,80,205 women and 86 third gender voters,” Vinay Kumar Choubey, the Chief Electoral Officer of Jharkhand, said.
The fate of 309 candidates, including 32 women nominees, will be decided in the third leg of the elections. Notable candidates in the fray are former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi, Urban Development Minister C P Singh and Education Minister Neera Yadav. While Marandi, the president of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), is contesting from the Dhanwar seat, Singh and Yadav are fighting from Ranchi and Kodarma constituencies respectively.
Former deputy chief minister and AJSU party president Sudesh Mahto is trying his luck to regain Silli seat after he lost the 2014 assembly polls and the subsequent bypoll to JMM candidates Amit Mahato and his wife Seema Mahato.
The assembly elections to the 81-member House began on November 30 and will end on December 20. The CEO said that about 40,000 polling personnel have been deputed to conduct smooth and peaceful voting. Of the total 7,016 polling stations set up for the third-phase, 1,008 are marked as critical and 543 sensitive in Naxal-affected areas.
A total of 2,014 polling stations have webcasting facilities, while elections in 329 model polling stations and 44 polling stations will be conducted by women. The 17 constituencies, including two reserved for SC candidates and one ST candidate, are spread over eight districts.
The seats where polling is being held are Kodarma, Barkatha, Barhi, Barkagaon, Ramgarh, Mandu, Hazaribag, Simaria (SC), Dhanwar, Gomia, Bermo, Ichagarh, Silli, Khijri (ST), Ranchi, Hatia and Kanke (SC), the Election Commission said in a release.
The fourth and the fifth phases polling for 15 and 16 seats will be held on December 16 and 20 respectively Votes will be counted on December 23.