The first phase of Jharkhand Assembly elections in 13 constituencies spanning six districts saw a voter turnout of 64.66 per cent. At 71.47 per cent, Lohardaga recorded the highest turnout, while the lowest was recorded at Chatra Assembly constituency — 58.92 per cent.
“All these constituencies are in the most Maoist violence-affected districts, but the polls went off peacefully. In all, 4,162 out of 4,892 polling stations were categorised as critical, adequate security arrangements were made,” the Election Commission stated.
According to the EC, there was a low-intensity IED blast near a bridge connecting Ghagra village with Hapad village under Bishunpur police station area of Gumla district. “There was no loss of life. The incident seems to have been carried out by some local sympathiser of Maoists,” the poll panel stated.
In Daltanganj constituency, a clash between supporters of the BJP and the Congress was reported. Congress candidate from Daltanganj, K N Tripathy, said: “In Koishara booth of Chainpur block, when I went to look at the election process, I saw about a hundred men who weren’t letting anyone enter the booth. When I resisted, they started beating me. I had to pull out my licensed gun to save myself. They destroyed my bulletproof vehicle.”
The EC stated: “The candidate took out his licensed weapon and his bodyguards came out to protect him as people were chasing him. The weapon has been seized and action is being taken. There was no disturbance in polling.”
The value of total seizures in the first phase stood at Rs 1.56 crore, according to the EC.
Prominent candidates whose fate will be decided in the first phase include Jharkhand Health Minister Ramchandra Chandravanshi, state Congress chief Rameshwar Oraon and Sukhdev Bhagat, a former minister, and BJP candidate Bhanu Pratap Shahi.
The BJP is contesting 12 seats and supporting one Independent. The JMM, Congress and RJD are fighting in alliance, and have fielded candidates in four, six and three seats, respectively.