Five-phase Jharkhand polls from Nov 27


New Delhi/Ranchi: Staggered elections to the Jharkhand assembly will be held in five phases from Nov 27 to Dec 18, the poll panel announced Friday as political parties in the state welcomed the move.

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Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla told reporters in Delhi that votes would be counted Dec 23 in the state, which has been under president’s rule for the last 10 months.

Polling in the first phase Nov 27 will be held in 30 of the 81 assembly constituencies. The second phase will be held Dec 2 when polling will be held in 15 seats, Chawla said.

In the third phase on Dec 8, there will be polling in seven constituencies while 14 and 15 seats will go to the polls on Dec 12 and 18 respectively in the fourth and the final phases.

Over 1.8 million voters are be eligible to cast votes in the state where a popular government has to be installed before Jan 18. Of the 81 seats, 28 have been reserved for Scheduled Tribes and nine for Scheduled Castes.

The poll panel said adequate forces will be deployed for smooth elections in Jharkhand which is one of the states troubled by Maoist extremism. Chawla cited security as one of the main reasons for holding elections in five phases.

Chawla said: “The security forces will safeguard polling stations and provide security to electors and polling personnel. Besides, these forces will be used for securing the strong rooms where the EVMs are stored and for securing the counting centers.”

With the Election Commission announcing the poll schedule, the model code of conduct came into effect in the state Friday.

The notification for the election will be issued Nov 3, 7, 13, 17, and 24 for the first, second, third, fourth and fifth phase respectively. The nominations can be filed till Nov 10, 14, 20, 24 and Dec 1.

The 81-member Jharkhand assembly, which was kept in suspended animation since January this year, was dissolved Thursday following the approval of the union cabinet.

The cabinet acted on the recommendation of state Governor K. Sankaranarayanan. President’s rule was imposed in the state Jan 19 after the then chief minister Shibhu Soren lost a by-poll and had to resign.

Political parties in the state welcomed the move and have already started wooing voters.

The Congress is upbeat following its victory in Maharashtra and Arunachal Pradesh. It is slated to take power in Haryana too after getting the support of seven newly elected independent legislators.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which got a drubbing in October’s assembly elections, hopes to recover lost ground and says the situation in Jharkhand is different.

Welcoming the poll panel’s decision union Food Processing Minister and Ranchi Lok Sabha MP Subodh Kant Sahay said: “The victory of the Congress will continue even in Jharkhand. We have won three states, and now it is Jharkhand’s turn. The Congress will form the government in Jharkhand.”

State BJP president Raghubar Das has also welcomed the decision. “The long wait has finally come to end.”

Das sounded confident of repeating the BJP’s performance in the Lok Sabha polls, in which the party won eight of the 14 seats.

“There will be no impact of the outcome of the three states as the situation in Jharkhand is different,” he said.

“The Congress lost its sitting seats and BJP won eight of the 14 seats, which indicates the mood of the people of the state.”

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) also welcomed the announcement of poll dates. “There is a wave against communal forces in the country. The RJD will perform well in the upcoming assembly elections,” said Girinath, an RJD legislator.

The Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) of former chief minister and Lok Sabha member Babulal Marandi said his party “is ready to go to the polls”.

Welcoming the announcement former deputy chief minister and senior Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Sudhir Mahto said: “We are ready to face elections. Our party chief Shibu Soren has also kicked off election campaign in the state.”