Jharkhand witnessed 64.44 per cent polling in the first phase of the vote in the 13 Assembly constituencies on Saturday, which is one per cent more than 63.29 per cent recorded in these seats in the 2014 elections. Defying the Maoist boycott call, voters queued up in large numbers at polling stations since morning to cast their votes.
According to Election Commission final data, the polling per cent was 64.44. The highest polling 71.47 per cent was recorded at Lohardagga and the lowest 56.59 per cent at the Chatra seat.
There was no major incident reported in the first phase. Maoist rebels tried to create fear among people by triggering four landmine blast in Gumla and blew up a bridge.
Minor clashes were reported between workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress in the Daltanganj Assembly seat. Congress candidate K.N. Triptahy waved his licenced revolver in the air after he was stopped from entering a polling booth.
The Election Commission has sought a report on the incident and has cancelled his licence.
The 13 seats that went to polls are Chatra, Latehar and Chattarpur (reserved for SC), Gumla, Bishunpur, Lohardaga, Manika (all ST seats), Panki, Daltonganj, Bishrampur, Hussainabad, Garhwa and Bhawnathpur.
Of the 37,78,963 voters in this phase, 19,79,991 were men, 17,98,966 women and five belonged to the third gender. 189 candidates are in the race, including 15 women. A maximum of 28 candidates was in Bhawnathpur and a minimum of nine in the Chatra seat.
According to Election Commission, of the 4,892 booths in the first phase, 4,585 were located in rural areas and 307 in urban areas. Of this, 121 were Sakhi booths and 417 model booths. In the first phase, the webcasting facility was provided at 1,262 booths.
Heavy security arrangements had been made and helicopters were used for airlifting and dropping of the poll officials in difficult terrain and Maoist-hit areas.
The leading candidates, whose fate had been sealed in the first phase, included Jharkhand Health Minister Ramchandra Chandravanshi, Congress state chief Rameshwar Oraon and former Minister and BJP candidate Bhanu Pratap Shahi.
The BJP is fighting 12 seats and supporting Independent on one seat. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the Congress, the RJD fighting poll in the alliance have fielded candidates in four, six and three seats, respectively.
On nine seats, it was a direct contest between the BJP and the JMM-Congress-RJD alliance.
Of the triangular on three seats, the contest in Lohardagga where between Congress state president Rameshwar Oraon, former state Congress chief, sitting MLA and now BJP candidate Sukhdeo Bhagat, and the All Jharkhand Students Union candidate Niru Bhagat.
In Hussainabad seat, the fight is four-cornered. Here former Minister and NCP candidate Kamlesh is drawing the attention of voters. He was Minister in the Madhu Koda government and have spent time in jail in different cases.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Raghubar Das appealed voters to vote in large number.
More than 85 per cent polling stations in these constituencies, where 189 candidates were in the fray, were categorised critical.
According to an Election Commission statement, four choppers were used to deploy 440 polling personnel to the polling stations, and five choppers will be used for bringing them back from remote locations.
The poll panel, in a special initiative, focused on social media engagement through various platforms and also engaged people through Electoral Literacy Awareness & Chunav Pathshala in all 4,892 booths in the first phase of the vote.
“Election-related messages circulated through print media, electronic media & social media viz Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram, etc. Voter mobilisation events, like races, competitions, plays, women-centric events and youth voter festival, were organised in every Assembly seat,” the poll panel said.
Moreover, state icons were also engaged for the awareness programme through LED Van, cinema hall and TV channels, and radio jingles were broadcast through Akashvani.
Special arrangements were made for senior citizens and people with disabilities (PwD).
“Extensive mapping was done to facilitate 49,007 PwDs to cast their votes comfortably. 7,106 volunteers facilitated bringing PwD voters from their houses to the polling stations. 1,108 vehicles were deployed to facilitate their transport. 2,952 wheelchairs were provided at the polling stations. 136 EVM familiarisation camps were organised exclusively for PwDs,” it said.
The online initiatives for awareness included an online application for political parties to hold meetings and complaints were disposed of through C-vigil app.
Some minor incidents of IED blasts and scuffle between candidates was also reported in the first phase of polling. (IANS)