Jharkhand voted today in the third of the five-phase assembly election. The third phase is crucial for the ruling BJP as three heavyweights are contesting. The overall voter turnout for the third phase was recorded at 61.9 per cent.
The momentum for the polls in the third phase has gained pace with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressing two rallies in Hazaribagh and Bokaro on December 9. The leaders will be campaigning in the state today for the next phase of the election.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted this morning, urging voters to come out in large numbers to exercise their franchise.
The third phase of Jharkhand polls will take place today.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 12, 2019
Urging all those whose seats go to the polls today to vote in large numbers. I particularly urge my young friends to vote.
Polling was on in 17 seats between 7 am and 5 pm. Over 56 lakh voters will decide the fate of 309 candidates, including 32 women, in the third phase.
Among the key contestants are Jharkhand ministers CP Singh and Neera Yadav both from the BJP. Former deputy Chief Minister and All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) president Sudesh Mahto is another key candidate.
Of the 17 seats, the BJP, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Congress had won 10, three and two seats, respectively in the 2014 assembly polls.
The constituencies are spread across capital Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Chatra, Giridih, Bokaro, Koderma and Saraikela.
Former Chief Minister and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik chief Babulal Marandi is locked in a triangular fight with sitting CPI-ML MLA Rajkumar Yadav and BJP candidate and former IPS officer Lakshman Prasad in Dhanwar.
In the first round of polling on November 30, a bridge in Bishnupur in Gumla district was blown up by Maoists. No one was injured in the incident.
Two incidents of violence were reported in the second phase of polling last Saturday. One person was killed and six others including policemen were injured in clashes and subsequent police firing in Gumla district. In the clashes at Sisai, an officer in-charge and two policemen were injured.
The fourth and the fifth phases polling for 15 and 16 seats will be held on December 16 and 20 respectively.
This is the fourth assembly election in Jharkhand since 2000 when the state was carved out of Bihar.
Jharkhand, which has an 81-member assembly, is voting in five phases till December 20. Counting of votes will take place on December 23.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)