First phase of Jharkhand polling underway amid Maoist blast, Congress-BJP clashes

A total of 37,83,055 electorate, including 18,01,356 women and five third-gender voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the first phase across six districts.

Published: 30th November 2019 11:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th November 2019 01:32 PM   |  A+A-

Para-military force personnel conduct searches in the area ahead of Jharkhand Assembly elections in Latehar Friday Nov. 29 2019. (Photo | PTI)

Para-military force personnel conduct searches in the area ahead of Jharkhand Assembly elections in Latehar Friday Nov. 29 2019. (Photo | PTI)

By Express News Service

RANCHI: As voting continues for the first phase of Assembly elections in Jharkhand, Maoists triggered a blast in the interiors of Banalat jungle in Gumla on the early hours of Saturday. 

District administration, however, cleared that it will not affect voting in the region.

“A blast was triggered in Banalat jungles in Bishrampur area of Gumla where a culvert is said to have been damaged by the Maoists. No casualty or injury has been reported so far and we are still seeking details into the matter,” said Gumla Deputy Commissioner Shahi Ranjan. 

The blast was triggered in the interiors of Banalat forests, which won't affect the voting, he added.

Notably, the Maoists had warned people to refrain from voting though sticking posters in the area ahead of Assembly elections in the state.

District administration, however, cleared that it will not affect voting in the region.

Meanwhile, a scuffle took place between Congress and BJP parties in Palamu after Congress candidate KN Tripathy was stopped from going inside Kosiara polling booth while voting was going on. 

According to Tripathy, BJP supporters even resorted to stone-pelting as he tried to get inside the booth after informed by his supporters that the venue was being looted.

“After BJP supporters started pelting stones on me and my bodyguards, somehow I went out from there in my car and saved my life,” said Tripathy. "Supporters of BJP candidate Alok Chaurasia did not want me to enter the booth as it was being looted by them", he added.

Eyewitnesses revealed that Tripathy and his bodyguards even took out their guns as a precautionary measure after being attacked but no firing took place. Voting is said to be peaceful in most parts of the state and 27 per cent polling was recorded till 11 am. 

Brisk voting is underway at several polling stations, polling officials said.

A total of 37,83,055 electorate, including 18,01,356 women and five third-gender voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the first phase across six districts.

The fate of 189 candidates, including 15 women nominees, will be decided in the first phase of the polling in Chatra, Gumla, Bishunpur, Lohardaga, Manika, Latehar, Panki, Daltonganj, Bishrampur, Chhatarpur, Hussainabad, Garhwa and Bhawanathpur.

ALSO READ | Maoists, criminals and scamsters in fray for first phase of Jharkhand polls

The Bhawanathpur constituency has the maximum of 28 contestants, while Chatra has the lowest with nine.

Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer Vinay Kumar Choubey said a total of 4,892 polling stations have been set up, out of which 1,262 would have webcasting facilities.

Additional Director General of Police and state police Nodal Officer Murari Lal Meena said a total of 1,097 polling stations in Naxal-affected areas were marked as hypersensitive and 461 polling stations as sensitive.

Key candidates in the fray are Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee and state Health Minister Ramchandra Chandravanshi from Bishrampur and state Congress president Rameshwar Oraon from Lohardaga seat.

Oraon is taking on the former state Congress chief Sukhdeo Bhagat after the latter joined the BJP recently.

Former BJP chief whip Radhakrishna Kishore, who was denied ticket from Chhatarpur, is contesting on an All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) party ticket from the same seat.

The BJP, which is seeking a second straight win under the leadership of Chief Minister Raghubar Das, is contesting in 12 seats in the first phase while it is supporting Independent candidate Vinod Singh from Hussainabad.

The AJSU party is contesting on its own.

Challenging the BJP is the opposition alliance of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal.

While the Congress is contesting in six seats in the first phase, the JMM is fighting in four and the RJD in three constituencies in the first phase.

The other parties contesting the elections are Babulal Marandi's Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), Janata Dal (United) and the Left parties.

The rest of the four phases for the 81-member assembly will be held on December 7, 12, 16 and 20.

Counting is scheduled on December 23.

Voting started at 7 am and will continue till 3 PM.

(With PTI Inputs)

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