More than 3.3 million voters will pick their legislators amid tight security in 13 Maoist-overrun constituencies of Jharkhand on Tuesday as a five-phase assembly election gets underway in the tribal-dominated state.
While the BJP is looking to sustain its winning habit having swept the Lok Sabha polls and key states this year on the back of Narendra Modi’s popularity, the Congress and big regional players like the JMM are fighting to halt the juggernaut.
A total of 199 candidates including nine sitting legislators are contesting in the first phase. Labour minister KN Tripathy from the Congress, party state president Sukhdeo Bhagat, AJSU’s Kamal Kishor Bhagat, Chamra Linda from the JMM, BJP’s Brajmohan Ram and RJD state president Girinath Singh are some of the big names.
This will be the third assembly election in Jharkhand which was carved out of Bihar in 2000. Since then the state has seen nine chief ministers and three stints of President’s Rule.
About 45,000 security personnel have been deployed at 3,961 polling stations while three helicopters have been pressed into service for aerial monitoring of the election.
“All preparations are in place to conduct safe and peaceful elections in the first phase. Altogether 263 polling stations will also go live through webcasting,” said state chief electoral officer PK Jajoria.
The Congress, which had won 14 of the state’s 81 constituencies in the 2009 polls, is struggling to retain half a dozen seats this time after severing ties with the ruling JMM last month following failed seat-sharing talks, boosting the BJP’s chances.
The BJP and the JMM are contesting 12 seats each in the first phase while the JVM-P is fighting 11. The Congress-RJD-JD (U) alliance is contesting all 13 seats – the Congress seven, the RJD four and the JD (U) two.