Campaigning ends for first phase of Jharkhand elections

Last Updated: Monday, November 23, 2009 - 17:43

Ranchi: Ten months into President`s Rule,
imposed after no alliance could stake claim to form a seventh
government, Jharkhand electorate will choose their government
when the first of the five-phase Assembly Elections gets
underway on November 25.

Campaigning in Jharkhand ended on Monday and a total of
11,42,150 electorate are eligible to vote for 26 out of the 80
seats in the first phase, according to Election Commission
sources here.

The House has 81 members, but one seat was
countermanded after sitting MLA and BJP nominee Chittaranjan
Yadav passed away yesterday.

A total of 470 candidates are in fray for the first
phase of elections with prominent alliance partners being
Congress-Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantric), BJP-JDU, JMM
and RJD-LJP-Left parties fielding their candidates.

The multi-crore hawala scam involving former chief
minister Madhu Koda and his aides has hogged headlines for
three weeks even as the Congress and the BJP blamed each other
for corruption in the state.

Union ministers Subodh Kant Sahay and Ajay Maken and
former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh accused
the NDA of laying the foundation for corruption and promised
to bring the BJP regimes during the Koda government under
the purview of investigation.

Countering the charges, NDA leaders L K Advani, Sharad
Yadav, Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu charged the Congress
with supporting the `corrupt` Koda government for 23 months.

Singh and Naidu also expressed apprehension that the
investigation into the Koda scam could be hushed up to
`protect` many `backroom players`.

Corruption, Naxalism and under-development have been
among the main issues touched upon by various leaders.

AICC president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary
Rahul Gandhi addressed issues of tribal welfare, development
and stability during their whirlwind visits.

The Congress president said violence had no place in
democracy and solutions could be brought about through
non-violent methods.

Rahul Gandhi said the Manmohan Singh government was
committed to reach out to every section of society and
eradicate poverty in the state.

RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan
campaigned jointly in some places and blamed the Centre for
spiralling price rise.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and Union
Minister of State for Shipping Mukul Roy of the Trinamool
Congress also threw their weight behind their respective
candidates.

In the first phase, the JMM has fielded 25 candidates,
the Congress 18, the JVM-P 10, the BJP 22, the JDU 3 and the
RJD 22, the CPI (M) six, the CPI one and the CPI
(ML-Liberation) four respectively.

All the five phases of the elections will end by
December 18 and results will be announced on December 23 to
put in place the seventh government in just over nine years.

Babulal Marandi, Shibu Soren (twice), Arjun Munda
(twice) and Madhu Koda had been the chief ministers since
November 15, 2000.

Had the Soren government continued, its term would
have ended in March.

Soren, who removed Koda in August, 2008 to assume
office for the second time in the same house, had quit as
chief minister chair in January after losing a by-poll, leading
to the imposition of President`s Rule on January 19.

Soren had a short nine-day stint soon after the first
Assembly Elections threw a fractured mandate in March/April,
2005.

After a fortnight-long drama, Soren had to quit
following Supreme Court`s directive and Arjun Munda took
charge -- his second stint after he replaced Babulal Marandi in
March 2003 after Marandi lost confidence of his allies.

Independent MLAs Madhu Koda, Enos Ekka, Harinaraiyan
Rai and other small regional parties played significant roles
in the formation of four governments in as many years since
2005.

Barring the nine-day stint of the Soren Cabinet, Koda
had been a minister since November 15, 2000 till Soren took
over from him in August, 2008. Koda however, managed to be
the chairman of the UPA`s steering committee in the state.

PTI



First Published: Monday, November 23, 2009 - 17:43

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