Maoist-hit areas vote today in round three of Jharkhand polls
Voting is underway to pick legislators from 17 seats of the 81 assembly constituencies of Jharkhand on Thursday in the third round of the five-phase election, amid heavy security.
The Election Commission has made heavy deployment of security forces, as 12 constituencies out of total 17 are stated to be under the influence of left-wing extremism (LWE).
Chief electoral officer Vinay Kumar Choubey said, “Like previous phases, there are some LWE-affected pockets in the third phase as well. In view of this, we have heli dropped polling personnel in 96 polling stations. Besides, 10 polling booths have been relocated due to security reasons.”
A total of three helicopters have been deployed to ferry the polling officials in sensitive areas, he added.
Out of 7,016 polling stations across 17 constituencies in eight districts, a total of 1,008 booths have been declared hyper-LWE sensitive, while 543 polling stations are LWE sensitive. Altogether 1,119 booths have been declared non-LWE hyper sensitive, while 2,672 are non-LWE sensitive booths, election officials said.
A crucial phase for the ruling BJP and the Opposition alliance, a group of three parties comprising Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), it will also decide the fate of two Cabinet ministers (CP Singh and Neera Yadav), former minister Rajendra Singh, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) chief Babulal Marandi and All Jharkhand Students Union or AJSU Party supremo Sudesh Mahto.
A total of 309 candidates, including 32 women, are contesting from 17 assembly seats. Besides, two Cabinet ministers, seven other sitting legislators — JP Yadav, Manish Jaiswal, Rajkumar Yadav, Yogeshwar Mahto, Sadhucharan Mahto, Ramkumar Pahan and Naveen Jaiswal — are also fighting to retain their seats.
Riding on the magic of prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP, which contesting from 16 seats, is confident of bagging the maximum number of seats in this phase. BJP had grabbed nine seats in the 2014 assembly elections. The alliance, which has fielded candidates in all 17 seats, is also hoping big gains from the phase.
In past assembly elections, Congress and JMM won two seats each, while Babulal Marandi led JVM-P bagged two seats. AJSU Party and CPI-M shared one seat each.
According to a report by the Association for Democratic Reform (ADR), which has analysed the affidavits of all 309 candidates in the fray, a total of 91 candidates with criminal charges are contesting the polls in the third phase and 62 of them have serious criminal cases against them.
ASJU Party has fielded the maximum number of candidates with criminal charges (10), while BJP has put up eight and the alliance six. JVM-P’s eight candidates out of the total 17 in the fray for the third phase have declared criminal cases against them.
Buoyed by the encouraging voters turnout in the first phase (64.22%) and second phase (65.15%), the poll panel expects the turnout to be higher in the third phase. To attract the maximum number of voters, the Election Commission has declared 329 polling stations as model booths, of which 44 would be operated by women.