Ranchi, December 12: An estimated 12.89 per cent of the over 56 lakh eligible voters exercised their franchise till 9 am on Thursday in the third of the five-phase Jharkhand assembly elections in 17 constituencies. Though polling began on a sluggish note long queues, with women outnumbering men, were seen in several polling stations.
Senior Congress leader and former union minister Subodh Kant Sahay was among the early voters. The voting began at 7 am amid tight security arrangements, officials said. In 12 seats polling will end at 3 pm, while voters in the remaining constituencies will be able to exercise their franchise till 5 pm. Jharkhand Assembly Elections 2019: Amit Shah Urges People to Vote for BJP, Says Your Votes to Decide if State Will Walk on Path of Development or Naxalism.
Altogether 56,18,267 voters, including 26,80,205 women and 86 third gender voters, are eligible to vote to decide the fate of 309 candidates, including 32 women nominees. The seats going to polls in the third phase are Kodarma, Barkatha, Barhi, Barkagaon, Ramgarh, Mandu, Hazaribag, Simaria (SC), Dhanwar, Gomia, Bermo, Ichagarh, Silli, Khijri (ST), Ranchi, Hatia and Kanke (SC), an EC release said.
Two of the constituencies are reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates and one for Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidate. Notable candidates in the fray are former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi, Urban Development Minister C P Singh and Education Minister Neera Yadav.
Babulal Marandi, president of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), is contesting from Dhanwar seat, while Singh and Yadav are contesting from Ranchi and Kodarma constituencies respectively. Former deputy chief minister and AJSU party president Sudesh Mahto is trying his luck to regain Silli seat after he lost the 2014 assembly polls and the subsequent bypoll to JMM candidates Amit Mahato and his wife Seema Mahato. The JMM has re-nominated Seema Mahato from the seat.
The BJP has not fielded candidates from Silli. About 40,000 polling personnel have been deputed to conduct smooth and peaceful voting, Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer Vinay Kumar Choubey said. Adequate security personnel have been deployed in the seats spread across eight districts, he said.
Of the total 7,016 polling stations set up for the third-phase, 1,008 are marked as critical and 543 sensitive in Naxal-affected areas. The first of the five-phase polling for 13 constituencies had concluded on November 30 and the second phase polling for 20 seats was held on December 7. The rest of the phases will be held on December 16 and 20. Counting will take place on December 23.