Fate of Hemant Soren will be decided in final phase of polling on Friday

Hemant Soren, former chief minister, JMM leader, polling, Jharkhand elections, final phase, fifth phase
Election polling officials collect EVMs and other polling materials on the eve of the fifth and last phase of Jharkhand Assembly elections in Godda. Photo: PTI

The fate of former chief minister and JMM leader Hemant Soren and two state ministers will be decided in the fifth and final phase of polling in Jharkhand for 16 assembly seats on Friday (December 20).

Soren, the chief ministerial candidate of the opposition JMM-Congress-RJD alliance is contesting from two seats, Dumka and Barhait which will go to polls on Friday. In Dumka, Soren is facing a tough fight from Woman and Child Welfare minister Louis Marandi of the BJP and his main opponent in Barhait is Simon Malto of the saffron party.

Jharkhand Agriculture Minister Randhir Singh of BJP is contesting from Sarath seat, which will also go to the polls in the fifth and final phase.

Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer Vinay Kumar Choubey on Thursday (December 19) said that all measures are in place as the fifth and final phase polling in 16 constituencies will take place on Friday.

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An electorate of 40,05,287 electorate, including 19,55,336 female and 30 third gender voters, are eligible to choose from a total 237 candidates, including 29 women nominees, across the 16 seats, the CEO said.

Also read: 2nd phase polls in Jharkhand records 64.39% turnout amid violence,1 killed

The polling will begin at 7 am in all the constituencies and end at 3 pm in Borio, Barhait, Litipara, Maheshpur and Sikaripara. Voting will continue till 5 pm in the rest of the constituencies.

Like the previous four-phase polling, where there have been left-wing extremism (LWE) pockets, the final phase also have certain Naxal pockets, the CEO said.

“There are some LWE affected areas and accordingly all measures have been taken. Eight polling stations have been re-located, 396 polling stations in Naxal-affected areas are marked as critical and 208 polling stations are marked as sensitive,” Choubey told a press conference here.

Considering previous records of caste or communal tensions, 1,321 polling stations in non LWE affected areas are critical while 1,765 polling stations are sensitive, he added.

Polling personnel of 28 polling stations have been air-dropped while polling personnel of 124 polling stations will leave the area for their respective district headquarters on Saturday to enable standard operating procedure, he said.

Also read: 62.54% polling recorded in fourth phase of Jharkhand elections

Satellite phones and other facilities have been made in 84 shadow areas, he said. The CEO said Central forces and Jharkhand armed forces and webcasting facilities in 1,347 polling stations are part of measures to conduct smooth and fair elections.

In this round of elections, the Election Commission has set up 8,987 ballot units, 6,738 control units and 7,006 VVPAT machines, he said.

Altogether 249 polling stations have been marked as model booths, 133 polling stations will be conducted by women personnel and 1,347 have webcasting facilities, Choubey said.

The seats going for the final leg voting are Rajmahal, Borio (ST), Barhait (ST), Litipara (ST), Pakur, Maheshpur (ST), Sikaripara (ST), Nalla, Jamtara, Dumka (ST), Jama (ST), Jarmundi, Sarath, Poreyahat, Godda and Mahagama across six districts in the Santhal Pargana region of the state.

Elections have already been held in 65 out of total 81 Assembly constituencies in the previous four phases between November 30 and December 16.

Counting of votes is scheduled on December 23.

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