RANCHI: The second phase of Jharkhand Assembly vote in 20 seats on December 7 will decide fate of many political heavyweights.
These constituencies, comprising all 14 seats of the Kolhan division and six of the South Chottanagpur division, fall in the Maoist-infested areas of the state.
Kolhan is a stronghold of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), if 2014 poll results are taken into consideration. Despite the Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave, the JMM had won eight seat then.
The centre for attraction is the Jamshedpur East seat from where Chief Minister Raghubar Das is contesting. He is facing his former cabinet colleague Saryu Rai and Congress spokesperson Gaurabh Vallabh.
Das has been winning the seat since 1995. In 2014, he had secured 1,03,427 votes against Congress candidate Anand Bihari Dubey who had got 33,270 votes.
Rai quit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the party withheld his nomination till the last phase of ticket distribution. Rai, an MLA from the Jamshedpur West, was Food and Civil Supply Minister in the Das cabinet. He quit both the Assembly and the cabinet to contest against Das.
"It's a fight against corruption and fear. The people of Jamshedpur East will choose someone who will live up to their expectations. They have been made hollow promises, but we will keep our word," Rai told IANS.
However, Das is confident of winning the poll.
Addressing a rally in Jamshedpur on Tuesday, Modi asked people to choose a stable government.
"In Gujarat, I was Chief Minister for 13 years, and Jharkhand had 10 Chief Ministers in the last 15 years," said Modi.
Targeting the Congress-JMM alliance, he said it had been formed to plunder the natural resources of the state.
Besides the Chief Minister and Saryu Rai, more than half a dozen VVIP candidates are in the fray. They include Speaker Dinesh Oraon, Urban Development Minister Neelkanth Singh Munda, Water Resources Minister Ramchandra Sahi and state BJP chief Laxman Giluwa.
The second phase is crucial for both the BJP and the Congress-JMM alliance.
While the JMM is trying to protect its bastion, the BJP has been trying to dent its citadel. It will also decide who will form the next government in the state.
Given the importance of the second phase, Modi has addressed rallies in Khunti and Jamshedpur. Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP acting chief J.P. Nadda too have addressed poll rallies.
The Congress too had its star campaigner Rahul Gandhi campaigning in this phase.
Another prestigious seat is Khunti from where Neelkanth Singh Munda is eyeing fifth term. In 2014 polls, he had defeated Jidan Horro of the JMM by 21,515 votes. This time he is facing Sushil Pahan of the JMM and Dayamani Barla of the JVM.
Sisai is another significant seat from where Speaker Dinesh Oraon is contesting polls against the JMM-Congress candidate Jigga Susaran Horo and Loharmine Oran of the JVM. Dinesh Oraon had won the seat in 2000 and 2014.
Chakardharpur too has emerged as a VIP seat from where state BJP chief Laxman Giluwa is in the fray. Despite having lost from the West Singhbhum seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP has shown faith in him.
Though Giluwa has represented the Chakardharpur seat in the past, the AJSU and the JMM are making things difficult for him.