More than five million people will cast their votes across Jharkhand’s 17 assembly constituencies as the state goes to the polls on Tuesday, a day that will decide the fate of many big names, including a former chief minister and three cabinet ministers.
The state saw record turnouts in the first two phases, where 63.35% and 68.01% cast their ballot, even in areas hit by Maoist violence. The Election Commission expects the trend to continue in the third phase.
“The voter turnout in first two phases indicates the turnout will be greater even in the third phase,” said Jharkhand chief electoral officer PK Jajoria.
A total of 289 candidates will vie for a spot in the 81-member assembly, including former chief minister Babulal Marandi of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik and former deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahto of the All Jharkhand Students’ Union Party.
Women and child development minister Annapurna Devi, finance minister Rajendra Prasad Singh and drinking water and sanitation department minister Jaiprakash Bhai Patel will fight from Koderma, Bermo and Mandu seats.
The Congress, which won six of the 17 seats and emerged a close second in five in 2009, is hoping for big gains but will face a tough challenge from the Narendra Modi-led BJP as it seeks to expand its national footprint after back-to-back electoral successes. The party is confident of bagging at least 12 seats in the state that has seen nine chief ministers and three President’s Rule in the 14 years since it came into existence.
BJP ally, AJSU Party, will contest in three constituencies, leaving 14 to its senior partner. The Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha will have a face-off in all 17 constituencies after they broke off their 16-month alliance in October.
The Election Commission has deployed around 41,000 security personnel on the ground as Maoists hold sway in at least eight constituencies and declared 1,957 of 5,865 polling stations hyper sensitive.