Around 62.66% voters turned up to cast their votes during the fourth phase of Assembly elections in Jharkhand on Monday. Fifteen constituencies voted in this phase, and 221 candidates were in the fray.
The constituencies that voted were Deoghar, Jamua, Chandankiyari, Madhupur, Bagodar, Gandey, Giridih, Dumri, Bokaro, Sindri, Nirsa, Dhanbad, Jharia, Tundi and Baghmara.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked all the voters to exercise their right. “Polling for the fourth round in the Jharkhand Assembly elections today,” he tweeted. “I request all voters to cast their vote and become a part of this sacred festival of democracy.”
Two incumbent ministers – Land and Revenue Minister Amar Kumar Bauri and Labour Minister Raj Paliwar – were in the fray. They were BJP candidates from Chandankiyari and Madhupur seats, respectively. Bauri faced All Jharkhand Students’ Union’s Umakant Razzak, while Paliwar contested against the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Haji Hussain Ansari.
Former ministers Mannan Malik and Jaleshwar Mahato were key Congress candidates from Dhanbad and Baghmara seats, respectively. Former minister and JMM candidate Mathura Prasad Mahato contested from Tundi, while three-time MLA and Marxist Coordination Committee’s Arup Chatterjee was seeking re-election from Nirsa.
Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer Vinay Kumar Choubey said the armed forces were deployed in areas affected by Maoists. Of the 6,101 polling stations in this phase, 587 were declared hyper-sensitive to left-wing extremism, while 405 were sensitive. In areas not affected by Naxalism, 546 polling stations were declared critical and 2,665 sensitive.
The five-phase elections to the 81-member Assembly began on November 30 and will end on December 20. Results will be declared on December 23. The fifth phase of polling for 16 seats will be held on December 20.
The term of the 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. The Bharatiya Janata Party and the All Jharkhand Students’ Union are contesting the elections separately as they failed to finalise a seat-sharing agreement. The saffron party is left with no other ally as Lok Janshakti Party is also contesting the elections alone.
The elections will test the strength of the Opposition alliance, which includes the Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Rashtriya Janata Dal.
In the 2014 Assembly elections, the saffron party had 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.
Jharkhand is 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 emerged the single-largest party but fell out with alliance partner Shiv Sena. The Sena then formed a government with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.