Jharkhand records 54 percent polling in first phase (Third Lead)

Ranchi, Nov 25 (Inditop.com) An average of 54 percent voting was recorded in the first phase of elections to the Jharkhand assembly Wednesday. The polling was largely peaceful and no untoward incident was reported, officials here said.

“The average polling in 26 assembly seats is around 54 percent,” said an official of the Jharkhand Election Commission.

Voting began on a slow note in the morning as the mercury dipped to six degrees Celsius, but voter turnout picked up in the afternoon. The highest voting percentage was reported at Pakur with 57.7 percent.

Elections were held in 26 of the state’s 81 assembly constituencies amid tight security. Due to security reasons, the poll timings were advanced and took place between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“There was complete peaceful voting in the first phase of polling. This was due to the adequate security arrangements in place, and air force helicopters were pressed into surveillance in the polling areas,” Jharkhand police spokesperson V.H. Deshmukh told Inditop.

However, police said that explosions, triggered by suspected Maoist rebels, were heard in Dhanbad district.

“Some explosion was heard in the foothills behind Nano village of Dhanbad. We cannot say what kind of an explosion it was. The explosion was far away from the polling stations,” Deshmukh said.

About 40,000 security personnel were deployed and four helicopters were pressed into service to ensure peaceful polling. Officials said voting started late in at least 13 places due to technical problems in the electronic voting machines (EVMs).

In the first phase, 470 candidates, including 194 Independents, were in the fray. Of these, 108 have criminal records and 27 are millionaires. Voting was held at 8,176 polling stations with 13,850 EVMs.

Most of the seats are witnessing a triangular fight between the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Congress-Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) alliance.

The key candidates include four former state ministers, six former MPs and speaker of the last assembly Aalamgir Aalam. The state unit chiefs of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Janata Dal-United and the Congress are also contesting in this phase.

The elections get over Dec 18 and the counting of votes will be held Dec 23.