Assembly polls in Jharkhand will be held in five phases starting November 30 and results will be announced on December 23, the Election Commission said on Friday. The Model Code of Conduct came into force with the announcement.

Voting for 13 constituencies will be held in the first phase on November 30, followed by the second phase in 20 constituencies on December 7. Seventeen seats will vote on December 12 in the third phase, 15 constituencies on December 16, and the remaining 16 seats on December 20 in the final phase.

The term of the 81-member Assembly ends on January 5 next year. Chief Minister Raghubar Das-led Bharatiya Janata Party is hoping to retain power in the state once again. In the 2014 Assembly elections, the saffron party won 35 seats and alliance partner All Jharkhand Students’ Union won five seats. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha was the largest Opposition party with 17 seats, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) won eight seats and Congress managed to win only six seats.

The elections will test the strength of the Opposition alliance, which includes the Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), Rashtriya Janata Dal and Left parties in the state.

Jharkhand will be the third BJP-ruled state to head to polls since last month after Maharashtra and Haryana. The party formed an alliance with Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janta Party after it fell six seats short of a majority in the Haryana Assembly. In Maharashtra, the BJP is currently engaged in a power sharing tussle with alliance partner Shiv Sena. The Sena has been pushing to share the chief minister’s post as well as Cabinet portfolios during the next government’s five-year tenure.

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