RANCHI: The counting of votes for 81 Jharkhand Assembly seats will begin today.
The state went to polls in five phases from November 30 to December 20. The counting of votes will start at 8 am in all 24 district headquarters amid tight security.
Jharkhand is the third BJP-ruled state after Haryana and Maharashtra that went to polls this year. In Jharkhand, the Bharatiya Janata Party is up against the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)-led alliance which includes Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
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While the JMM has fielded candidates in 43 seats, the Congress and the RJD are fighting for 31 and seven seats, respectively. The ruling party has fielded its candidates in 79 out of the 81 seats. BJP has not fielded any candidate against All Jharkhand Students' Union's (AJSU's) Sudesh Mahto, and is supporting a candidate in the remaining one constituency.
In the Lok Sabha elections held earlier this year, BJP had bagged 11 seats out of 14 in the state.
Incumbent Chief Minister Raghubar Das, who is also the first chief minister of the state to have completed a full term in office, is contesting from Jamshedpur East.
The exits polls have indicated a marginal advantage to the JMM-led alliance and have pointed towards a hung Assembly.
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According to the ABP/C-Voter exit poll, JMM, Congress and RJD will retain 35 seats. It has, however, given 32 seats to the ruling BJP, 5 to AJSU and three to the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) and six to others.
India Today-Axis My India shows that the BJP is going to trail behind the Congress. It has given JMM-led opposition between 38 and 50 seats and the BJP between 22 and 32 seats. It has predicted 3 to 5 seats for the AJSU, 2 to 4 seats for the JVM-P, and 4 to 7 seats to others.
In case of a hung Assembly, AJSU and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha -Prajatantrik could be calling the shots.
According to the Election Commission of India, the approximate voter turnout for all the 81 Assembly constituencies across the five phases was 65.17 per cent as compared to the 66.53 per cent recorded in the 2014 elections.
The tenure of the current Assembly ends on January 5, 2020. This is the fourth Assembly election in Jharkhand since the state was carved out of Bihar in 2000.
In 2014, the BJP, which won 37 seats, formed the government along with AJSU, which had won 5 seats.