Nearly five million people are voting for 15 assembly seats across four districts of Jharkhand on Monday with two incumbent ministers and 12 sitting legislators testing their luck in the penultimate round of the five-phase polls.
The voters will decide the fate of 221 candidates, including 22 women and a third gender. Election officials, however, refrained from disclosing name of the third gender contestant to avoid “unnecessary” promotion of the candidate a day before the election.
Of the 15 constituencies, five are stated to be affected by the Maoists. The election commission has made adequate security management in every booth to hold peaceful polls.
“Like the previous phases, there are few pockets in this phase which are affected by Left-Wing Extremism (LWE). Of a total of 6,101 polling stations across 15 constituencies, 587 stations are hyper-LWE-sensitive and 405 are LWE-sensitive,” said Vinay Kumar Choubey, chief electoral officer (CEO).
Altogether 546 polling stations have been declared non-LWE-hyper-sensitive, while 2,665 stations are non-LWE-sensitive.
“Polling officials of 75 polling stations falling under LWE-affected areas have been provided heli-dropping facility, while officials of 136 polling stations have been taken to their cluster on Saturday,” added Choubey.
Monday’s polling will see prominent candidates, including revenue, registration and land reform minister Amar Kumar Bauri and labour, employment and training minister Raj Paliwar, seeking re-election.
The phase is crucial for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as it had won 11 seats of the 15 in the 2014 assembly polls. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), AJSU Party, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) and Marxist Co-ordination Committee (MCC) shared one seat each in the last assembly polls.
The phase is also crucial for the Left parties as four seats — Nirsa, Bagodar, Sindri and Tundi — going to polls in this phase have been Left bastions in the past.
Jharia assembly seat, however, has turned interesting after sisters-in-law Ragini Singh of BJP and Purnima Singh of Congress locking horns against each other.
The seat will also see an interesting fight between chacha-bhatija (uncle and nephew). AJSU candidate Awadesh Yadav is contesting against his uncle Yogendra Yadav, a JVM-P candidate, from the seat.
Of the total 221 candidates in fray, 75 candidates are facing criminal charges, including 48 of them have declared serious criminal charges against themselves, according to the Association for Democratic Right (ADR) report.
BJP has fielded maximum eight candidates with criminal charges, which is followed by JVM-P candidate with seven candidates. JMM and Congress have fielded three and two candidates with criminal cases respectively.
Among the candidates with criminal cases, AJSU Party’s Deoghar candidate Santosh Paswan topped the chart with declaring 12 criminal cases against him in his self-sworn affidavit to the election commission, as per the ADR report.
Besides, 60 crorepati candidates are also trying their luck in the fourth phase of Jharkhand seats from 15 seats.
Among the parties, BJP has the highest 12 crorepati candidates on 15 seats, which is followed by JVM-P with nine candidates. JMM’s six candidates, while Congress three candidates are crorepati in the phase, according to ADR report.
However, Samajwadi Party candidate from Sindri seat Hafizuddin Ansari is the richest candidate with total assets worth Rs 35.51 crore.
Election commission is hoping encouraging voters’ turnout in Monday’s poll like in three previous polls. Jharkhand recorded 64.22% voting in first phase, 65.85% in second phase and 62.42% polling in third phase polls.
With an aim to attract voters, the election commission has declared 183 polling stations as model booths, while 70 booths would be operated by women. Webcasting facility will be available in 2,122 sensitive booths.
CEO said a total of 4,039 volunteers and 2,504 wheel chairs have been put into service in different polling booths for more than 6,400 differently abled voters. Altogether 3,432 vehicles would provide them pick and drop facility.
Election officials said 9,902 ballot units, 7,028 control units and 7,931 VVPATs would be used in the phase for 4,785,009 voters.