Barring a few minor incidents of violence, the first phase of polling in13 constituencies of 81-member Jharkhand Assembly concluded peacefully with 62.87 voter turnout.
The first phase elections had been a tough challenge for the administration as 6 out of 13 seats fell in Maoist-infested areas.
More than 35,000 security personnel were deployed to conduct free and fair elections and keeping in mind the Maoist presence in some constituencies. Despite the tight security arrangement, Maoists blew up a culvert on Gumla-Lohardaga border in the morning soon after the voting process began. However, no casualty was reported in the incident.
It is the fourth assembly election for the state since 2000 when it was carved out of Bihar. Around 38 lakh voters, including 18 lakh women are eligible to vote in the first phase.
The outgoing BJP government led by Chief Minister Raghubar Das is eyeing a second term. The party is contesting on 12 seats in the first phase. In 2014, the BJP, which won 35 seats, had formed the government with All Jharkhand Students’ Union (AJSU) which had only five seats. This time, in the absence of any alliance between BJP and AJSU, the latter is contesting elections alone this time.
Opposition parties Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the Congress and the Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) have joined hands to ensure a tough fight for the ruling BJP.
Jharkhand Congress chief Rameshwar Oraon is contesting against former state Congress chief Sukhdeo Bhagat, who recently switched to the BJP. While Congress is contesting on six seats, the JMM and RJD are contesting on four and three seats, respectively.