The fifth and final phase of polling in 16 assembly constituencies of Jharkhand passed off peacefully on Friday and an estimated 71.69 per cent of the 40.05 lakh voters exercised their franchise, Election Commission officials said.
IMAGE: Voters display their fingers marked with indelible ink after casting their votes during the fifth phase of the Jharkhand Assembly elections, in Godda district. Photograph: PTI Photo
For the first time since Jharkhand’s creation 19 years ago, assembly elections to all the 81 seats passed off without violence by Maoists.
“The polling passed off peacefully,” Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer Vinay Kumar Choubey told a press conference.
The approximate voter turnout for all the 81 assembly constituencies across the five phases is 65.17 per cent, compared to the 66.53 per cent recorded in the 2014 elections.
Out of 81 assembly seats in the states, elections concluded in 65 constituencies in the previous four phases between November 30 and December 16.
Counting has been scheduled on December 23.
IMAGE: An elderly voter leaves after casting her vote during the fifth phase of Jharkhand assembly elections, in Dumka. Photograph: PTI Photo
Choubey said a total of 45 ballot units, 42 control units and 120 VVPAT machines were changed during the day but polling was not affected due to this.
Friday’s voting began at 7 am. The exercise ended at 3 pm in five Maoist affected seats and at 5 pm in the rest of the constituencies.
Of the 5,389 polling stations in the state, 396 in Naxal-affected areas have been marked “critical” and 208 as “sensitive”.
Bharatiya Janata Party candidate and Jharkhand Agriculture Minister Randhir Singh is seeking re-election from Sarath constituency, while another saffron party nominee and Women and Child Development Minister Louis Marandi is pitted against Jharkhand Mukti Morcha working president Hemant Soren in Dumka.
Marandi had defeated Soren in 2014 assembly elections.
IMAGE: A security person stands guard as voters queue up to cast votes during the fifth phase of the Jharkhand assembly elections, in Godda district. Photograph: PTI Photo
The JMM leader is also contesting the polls from Barhait seat. His sister-in-law Sita Soren is seeking re-election from Jama seat.
Among others, former deputy chief minister and sitting JMM MLA Stephen Marandi is seeking re-election from Maheshpur and Janata Dal-United’s Jharkhand unit chief and ex-MP salkhan Murmu is contesting the polls from Sikaripara.
An EC note said, altogether 1,088 male candidates, 27 women nominees and one third-gender candidate were in the fray for the 81 seats.
The seats that went to polls are Borio (ST), Barhait (ST), Litipara (ST), Maheshpur (ST), Sikaripara (ST), Rajmahal, Pakur, Nalla, Jamtara, Dumka (ST), Jama (ST), Jarmundi, Sarath, Poreyahat, Godda and Mahagama.
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