An electorate of 44,31,900, including 21,72,982 women, is eligible to vote in 5,048 polling stations across seven districts to elect 223 candidates, said Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer P K Jajoria.There are 35 women among the candidates with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, BJP and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) nominating four women each.
Polling began at 7 am in all 20 constituencies. While it will end at 5 am at Jamshedpur (West) and Jamshedpur (East) seats, the exercise will end at 3 pm in the rest of the seats, Jajoria said. Inspector-General of Police M L Meena said there were 1,424 supersensitive and 2,048 sensitive polling stations and added that polling personnel were airlifted to remote areas to be brought back by air after the polling.
The November 25 first phase election covering 13 Maoist-affected constituencies had ended peacefully, recording 62 per cent votes. The CPI (Maoist) and the People's Liberation Front of India are the banned extremist outfits operating in several rural areas across the seven districts - Seraikella-Kharsawan, West Singhbhum, East Singhbhum, Khunti, Simdega, Ranchi and Gumla where the 20 Assembly segments are situated. The BJP is contesting in 18 seats in this phase, leaving two - Tamar and Jugsalai - for its pre-poll alliance partner, the AJSU Party.
The Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM-Prajatantrik) and Trinamool Congress are contesting in a pre-poll alliance, with the JVM-P fielding candidates in 18 seats, conceding two seats to the TMC.
Ruling allies JMM and Congress, who parted ways just before the Assembly election, are contesting against each other in all 20 constituencies. In this phase, RJD and JD(U) are not in the fray. Prominent among the candidates are incumbent Agriculture minister Banna Gupta (Jamshedpur -West), HRD minister Geetashree Oraon (Sisai) and Industry minister Champai Soren (Seraikella).
Former chief ministers Arjun Munda and Madhu Koda are the other figures trying their luck. Former IAS officer J B Tubid, who took voluntary retirement to join the BJP, is contesting from Chaibasa, while former MLA Surya Singh Besra is fighting from the Potka seat.
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