AN estimated 64.72 per cent votes were cast in 13 Assembly constituencies of Jharkhand, where the first phase of polling was held on Saturday, Election Commission (EC) officials said. The 13 constituencies are in six Maoist-hit districts and polling was held amidst a tight security. Addressing a press conference after the completion of voting, Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Vinay Kumar Choubey said the polling remained peaceful and there was no report of any big incident from anywhere.
“The polling was fair, transparent and peaceful. Intense monitoring was done during the polling,” he said. A press statement issued by the EC said, “Despite the fact that all these ACs (Assembly constituencies) fell in the most Naxal-affected districts, the poll on Saturday went off peacefully with very enthusiastic participation of voters, including PwDs, senior citizens, youth etc. 4162 out of 4892 polling stations were categorised as critical and adequate security arrangements were made.” A total of 37,83,055 voters, including 18,01,356 women and five third-gender voters, exercised their franchise to elect their representatives from among 189 candidates, including 15 women nominees.
The polling was held in the Chatra, Gumla, Bishunpur, Lohardaga, Manika, Latehar, Panki, Daltonganj, Bishrampur, Chhatarpur, Hussainabad, Garhwa and Bhawanathpur constituencies. The Bhawanathpur constituency has the maximum of 28 contestants, while Chatra has the lowest of nine nominees. Additional Director General of Police Murari Lal Meena said LWEs (left-wing extremists) exploded a bomb near a culvert in the forests of Gumla district in the Bishnupur constituency, but there was no casualty or damage. He said a total of 1,097 polling stations were marked as hypersensitive and 461 as sensitive.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), seeking a second straight win under the leadership of Chief Minister Raghubar Das, contested 12 seats in the first phase and supported an Independent candidate. The AJSU, an NDA constituent, contested on its own.