The first of the five-phase elections in Jharkhand on Saturday recorded an estimate of 62.87 voter turnout, amid stray incidents of violence in parts of the state.
Polling, which ended at 3 pm across the 13 constituencies, saw a total of 7,83,055 electorate, including 18,01,356 women and five third-gender voters, an Election Commission (EC) official told news agency PTI.
Constituencies that went to polling in the first phase are Chatra, Gumla, Bishunpur, Lohardaga, Manika, Latehar, Panki, Daltonganj, Bishrampur, Chhatarpur, Hussainabad, Garhwa and Bhawanathpur.
Though violence was reported in few parts of the state, Additional Director General of Police Murari Lal Meena said polling was largely “peaceful”. Meena told PTI that Naxalites exploded a bomb near a culvert in the forests of Gumla district, however no casualty or damage was reported.
Violence was reported from Koshiara and Hussainabad where Congress candidate KN Tripathi was seen brandishing a gun in Chainpur block of Daltonganj. Defending himself, he said it was done in “self-defence” while trying to resist “booth-capturing”.
Alleging a violation of the model code of conduct, BJP said Tripathi had taken his licensed gun inside the polling booth. “His bodyguards were not supposed to accompany him. He also took his licensed gun inside the polling booth. People were resisting,” BJP Spokesperson Pratul Shahdeo told The Indian Express. Meanwhile, in Hussainabad, there was a clash between supporters of AJSU and NCP.
A total of 189 candidates including 15 women candidates contested in the first phase of polls. The Bhawanathpur constituency had the maximum of 28 contestants, while Chatra had nine candidates making it the lowest. Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer Vinay Kumar Choubey said a total of 4,892 polling stations had been set up, out of which 1,262 had webcasting facilities.
The polling time had been reduced from the usual 5 pm to 3 pm due to shorter days in winter and owing to several polling stations being in remote areas. Nearly 1,097 polling stations in Naxal-affected areas were marked as hypersensitive and 461 polling stations as sensitive, the ADG-Police told PTI.
While the Congress is contesting in six seats in the first phase, its alliance partners JMM and RJD are fighting in four and in three constituencies, respectively in the first phase. 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.
-with PTI inputs