Jharkhand elections will be held in five phases starting November 30 for its state assembly and results will be declared on December 23, the Election Commission announced on Friday. Voting dates for the five phases will be November 30, December 7, December 12, December 16 and December 20, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said at a news briefing.
Thirteen constituencies will vote in the first phase, 20 in the second phase, 17 in the third, 15 in the fourth phase and 16 constituencies will go to polls in the fifth phase. The assembly polls in the Maoist-affected state, which has a large tribal population, were held in five phases in 2014 as well.
The election will be the third state poll since Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the BJP to a massive win in Lok Sabha elections in April-May. It will also be the third BJP-ruled state to hold elections this year, following Maharashtra and Haryana, which voted on October 21.
The BJP, which currently rules the state in an alliance with the All Jharkhand Students' Union (AJSU), will hope for better results than it recorded in Maharashtra and Haryana. The party was widely expected to win both states by comfortable margins but suffered setbacks, winning fewer seats in each than it did in the last election, although it did emerge as the single-largest in each state.
In Jharkhand, the BJP government is led by Chief Minister Raghubar Das. The BJP rose to power after winning 35 seats in the 81-member house in 2014. Its ally, the AJSU, won 17, taking the NDA past the majority mark. The BJP's dominant performance also saw it reduce the Congress to just six seats.
The party also swept the state in Lok Sabha polls, winning 12 of 14 parliamentary seats.
The Congress and the JMM have announced a tie-up but they have yet to finalise seat-sharing.
"Everything is pre-decided, and the grand alliance will be announced soon," Jharkhand Congress chief Rameshwar Oraon was quoted in a report by news agency IANS. The main goal was to oust the BJP, he added.
According to IANS, the JMM will be the majority partner and is likely to contest 44 seats. The Congress will get 27 and the rest will go to smaller allies, which include the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Left parties, it said.