Twenty constituencies will go to polls in the second phase of assembly elections in Jharkhand on Saturday (December 7), in which Chief Minister Raghubar Das and assembly Speaker Dinesh Oraon are the key contestants.
Over 42,000 security personnel, including central forces, have been deployed in the 20 constituencies spread over seven districts of the tribal state to ensure free and fair polling, reports said.
Polling will begin at 7 am and continue till 5 pm in Jamshedpur (East) and Jamshedpur (West) constituencies, while that in the rest of the 18 constituencies will be held between 7 am and 3 pm, an Election Commission release said.
A total 47,24,968 voters will decide the fate of 260 candidates, EC sources said. As many as 29 women nominees and 73 independents are in the fray on Saturday, they said.
Of the 20 constituencies going to polls, 16 are reserved for scheduled tribe candidates and one for the scheduled caste, the release said.
The assembly seats going to the polls are Baharagora, Ghatsila(ST), Potka(ST), Jugsalai(SC), Jamshedpur(East), Jamshedpur(West), Seraikela(ST), Chaibasa(ST), Majhgaon(ST), Jaganathpur(ST), Manoharpur(ST), Chakradharpur(ST), Kharsawan (ST), Tamar(ST), Torpa(ST), Khunti(ST), Mandar(ST), Sisai(ST), Simdega(ST) and Kolebira (ST).
Among the prominent leaders whose fate will be sealed in the second phase of polling are Chief Minister Raghubar Das from Jamshedpur (East), where he will be challenged by his former cabinet colleague and independent candidate Saryu Rai.
Jharkhand Assembly Speaker Dinesh Oraon is contesting from Sisai on a BJP ticket, while BJP candidate and Jharkhand Rural Development Minister Neelkanth Singh Munda is in the fray in Khunti. BJP state unit president Laxman Gilua is contesting from Chakradharpur.
The AJSU party candidate and Jharkhand Water Resources Minister Ramchandra Sahis is in the fray in the Jugsalai seat. Former Jharkhand PCC president Pradeep Kumar Balmachu, who has joined the AJSU party recently, is contesting from Ghatsila.
JD-U president Salkhan Murmu is contesting from Majhgaon and JVM-P candidate and former HRD Minister Bandhu Tirkey is contesting from Mandar.
The BJP is contesting in all the 20 constituencies going for the polls in the second phase, while the opposition alliance of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Congress are contesting in 14 and six seats respectively.
The RJD, which has got a total of seven seats according to the seat-sharing formula by the three opposition parties has no candidate in the second phase of polling.
AJSU, an NDA ally which is contesting the assembly elections on its own for the first time since the creation of Jharkhand has fielded candidates in 12 seats where polling will be held in this phase.
The Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) has fielded candidates in all the 20 seats, while Bahujan Samaj Party is in the fray in 14 seats. CPI is contesting in two seats while CPI-M is contesting in one and the NCP in two constituencies. Six candidates of the All India Trinamool Congress are also in the fray in the second phase.
The first phase had concluded on November 30 in 13 of the total 81 constituencies that recorded an estimated 63.5% turnout. The fifth and final phase of polling will be held on December 20 and counting will take place on December 23, EC sources said.
(With inputs from agencies)