The voting has begun for the third phase of the Jharkhand Assembly Elections on Thursday. The fate of 309 candidates, including 32 women nominees, will be decided by 56,18,267 electorate, the CEO told a press conference. The electorate include a total of 26,80,205 women and 86 third gender voters. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to urge people of Jharkhand to vote. “The third phase of Jharkhand polls will take place today. Urging all those whose seats go to the polls today to vote in large numbers. I particularly urge my young friends to vote,” the Prime Minister said on the micro-blogging site. About 40,000 polling personnel have been deputed to conduct smooth and peaceful voting in the third of the five-phase polling for seventeen assembly constituencies.
The seats where polling are being held are Kodarma, Barkatha, Barhi, Barkagaon, Ramgarh, Mandu, Hazaribag, Simaria (SC), Dhanwar, Gomia, Bermo, Ichagarh, Silli, Khijri (ST), Ranchi, Hatia and Kanke (SC), an EC release said. Among the candidates, former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi, Urban Development Minister C P Singh and Education Minister Neera Yadav are in the electoral battle. While Marandi, the president of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), is fighting Dhanwar seat, Singh and Yadav are contesting 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 respectively.
A total of 2,014 polling stations have webcasting facilities, 329 model polling stations and 44 polling stations will be conducted by women polling personnel, he said. Out 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. While 1,119 polling stations are 'critical' and 2,672 polling stations are 'sensitive' in the non-Naxal affected areas.
The voting that began on 7 am will end at 5 pm at Ranchi, Hatia, Kanke, Barkatha and Ramgarh seats while voters in the rest of the constituencies can exercise franchise between 7 am and 3 pm. The constituencies , including two reserved for SC candidates and one ST candidate, going to vote on Thursday are spread over eight districts.
The BJP has not fielded candidates from Silli though the NDA allies are fighting the polls separately, for the first time since the states creation. The first-phase polling for 13 seats and the second-phase for 20 assembly segments had concluded on November 30 and December 7 respectively.
The fourth and the fifth phases polling for 15 and 16 seats will be held on December 16 and 20 respectively. Counting to the 81-member House is slated on December 23.