Jharkhand recorded 45.14 per cent voting till 1 pm in the third phase of polls on Thursday. The highest polling has been recorded in Khijari seat at 37.65 per cent and lowest at Ranchi with 19.35 per cent. The voting commenced at 7 a.m. amid tight security arrangements. The fate of 309 candidates, including 32 women nominees, will be decided on Thursday as voting for the third phase of the five-phase polling for 17 assembly constituencies in Jharkhand is began at 7 am.
According to Jharkhand Chief Election Officer Vinay Kumar Choubey, nearly 40,000 polling personnel have been deputed to conduct smooth and peaceful voting in the state. Security forces have also been deployed in the constituencies that will witness voting on December 12, he said.
The electorate includes a total of 26,80,205 women and 86 third gender voters.
Stating that there are LWE (left wing extremist) pockets in this phase, Choubey said that polling personnel of 96 polling stations have been dropped by helicopters and 10 polling stations have been re-located on security ground.
"Polling personnel of 188 polling stations were sent two days ago and they have reached there and almost all the officials to other booths have reached," Choubey said.
The polling personnel of 626 polling stations will return to their respective district headquarters the next day (Friday) and arrangements of CCTV and double-lock strong rooms have been made, the CEO said.
He added if any political parties desired to send their agents to stay there could do so.
The CEO said that there are 13,504 ballot units, 8,772 controlling units and 9,123 VVPAT in the 17 seats with double ballot units being set up in nine of the constituencies as there are sixteen or more candidates in the fray.
A total of 2,014 polling stations have webcasting facilities, 329 model polling stations and 44 polling stations will be conducted by women polling personnel, he said.
Out of the total 7,016 polling stations set up for the third phase, 1,008 are marked as 'critical' and 543 'sensitive' in Naxal-affected areas.
While 1,119 polling stations are 'critical' and 2,672 polling stations are 'sensitive' in the non-Naxal affected areas, he added.
The voting will commence at 7 am and end at 5 pm at Ranchi, Hatia, Kanke, Barkatha and Ramgarh seats while voters in the rest of the constituencies can exercise franchises between 7 am and 3 pm.
The constituencies - including two reserved for SC candidates and one ST candidate, going to vote on Thursday are spread over eight districts.
The seats where polling will be held are Kodarma, Barkatha, Barhi, Barkagaon, Ramgarh, Mandu, Hazaribag, Simaria (SC), Dhanwar, Gomia, Bermo, Ichagarh, Silli, Khijri (ST), Ranchi, Hatia and Kanke (SC), an EC release said.
Among the candidates, former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi, Urban Development Minister CP Singh and Education Minister Neera Yadav are in the electoral battle.
While Marandi, the president of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), is fighting Dhanwar seat, Singh and Yadav are contesting from Ranchi and Kodarma constituencies respectively.
Former deputy chief minister and AJSU party president Sudesh Mahto is trying his luck to regain Silli seat after he lost the 2014 assembly polls and the subsequent bypoll to JMM candidates Amit Mahato and his wife Seema Mahato respectively.
The BJP has not fielded candidates from Silli though the NDA allies are fighting the polls separately, for the first time since the state's creation.
The first-phase polling for 13 seats and the second-phase for 20 assembly segments had concluded on November 30 and December 7 respectively.
The fourth and the fifth phases polling for 15 and 16 seats will be held on December 16 and 20 respectively. Counting to the 81-member House is slated on December 23.