Ranchi, Dec 14: Polling in 15 Assembly constituencies began on Sunday amid adequate security arrangements for the fourth of the five-phased elections in Jharkhand. Polling began at 7 am in all the seats and will end at 5 pm in Dhanbad and Bokaro constituencies.
The exercise will, however, end at 3 PM in the rest of the constituencies of Madhupur, Deogarh (SC), Bagodar, Jamua (SC), Gandey, Giridih, Dumri, Chandankyari (SC), Sindri, Nirsa, Jharia, Tundi and Baghmara, many being Maoist-hit. The Election Commission did not specify number of security personnel deployed for strategic reasons.
A total of 43,48,709 voters are eligible to elect legislators from 217 candidates, including 16 women. Former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi, who has already contested in the third phase from Dhanwar, is among the 13 candidates in the fray from the Giridih seat this time.
Disaster Management Minister Mannan Mallick (Congress -Dhanbad), Tourism Minister Suresh Paswan (RJD-Deogarh) and Building Construction Minister Haji Hussain Ansari (JMM -Madhupur) are in the field, besides 11 MLAs seeking re-election.
The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Bahujan Samaj Party have fielded the maximum of 14 candidates each followed by the Jharkhand Vikas Party (Prajatantrik-13 candidates), CPI (three) CPI (M) and NCP in two seats each. In all, 716 out of 3,718 polling stations are marked as highly sensitive and 2007 as sensitive and only 615 polling station locations are situated in urban areas.
EC assigned 335 polling stations for webcasting
The EC assigned 335 polling stations for webcasting. The election body has also deployed 27,410 polling personnel across the 15 constituencies with 5,482 Control Units for EVM and 6,978 ballot units. VVPAT (Voter verified paper audit trail) will be used in a combined total of 917 polling stations in Bokaro and Dhanbad.
The Election Commission has also deployed 15 general observers, six expenditure observers, two police observers, two awareness observers and 1,069 micro observers, according to EC sources.
Polling to 50 of the 81 seats has already been concluded in the previous three phases, which passed off peacefully. The fifth and final phase for 16 seats is scheduled on December 20 and counting will take place on December 23.