Amidst tight security arrangements, as many as 24,62,850 voters are casting their ballot for the 14 assembly seats in the fourth phase, which comprises several Naxal-infested constituencies.
Among the key candidates, whose fate would be sealed today, include former Deputy Chief Minister Sudhir Mahato from Ichagarh, Dinesh Sarangi from Baharagora, Enos Ekka from Simdega and Joba Manjhi from Manoharpur. Besides, the fate of state Congress chief Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu, who is contesting from Ghatshila, is a much watched seat as he is an aspiring Chief Minister, if his party manages to win above 15 seats.
If we look at the 2005 assembly poll results of the 14 constituencies voting for 4th phase, Congress had won only three seats of Lohardaga, Simdega and Ghatsila; BJP had won Bharagora, Torpa, Sisai and Bishunpur; JMM had won five seats of Potka, Ichagarh, Majhgaon, Chakradharpur and Gumla; while UGDP (Joba Manjhi) and JKP (Enos Ekka) had won one each.
Although the results of Lok Sabha and assembly polls are not necessarily on the same lines, the comparative strength of the respective political parties can be assessed through their performance in the recently held general elecions. From that angle, the fourth phase covers as many as five parliamentary constituencies of Jamshedpur, Singhbhoom, Khunti, Ranchi and Lohardaga, and of these, BJP had won three while one each was won by Congress and an Independent ( Madhu Koda).
Interestingly, this phase also covers the three seats of Singhbhum, where Madhu Koda’s political outfit Jai Bharat Samanta Party has fielded its candidates. Their performance would determine also Koda’s fate and his bargaining skill in the post poll scenario of the state politics, where small numbers have so far played significant roles in the formation of the governments.
However, in the rest of four parliamentary seats of Jamshedpur, Lohardaga and Khunti, the BJP with its electoral victory in Lok Sabha is quite confident, as ten assembly seats fall under these parliamentary constituecies.
But we cannot forget that Congress’ vigorous campaign that has tried to convey a postive message among electorate with its come back at the Centre, as well as, in several other states. It certainly has an edge in the face of the BJP being seen in a poor light especially after its leadership crisis and the RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement in this regard.
Although RJD-LJP and Left combine in these 14 seats were not able to show their strength in 2005, they are trying hard to exert themxselves with the campaign of their top leadership. But the low turnout of voters so far reflects the lack of zeal in the ongoing polls, and this scenario perhaps may not favour the smaller parties except the JMM, which has been involved in the struggle for the state of Jharkhand.
The leadership of JMM chief Shibu Soren has lost its earlier image, but it is difficult to rule him out in the politics of Jharkhand. Perhaps that is the reason why political watchers feel that in the post poll scenario his role would again be significant if the Congress manages to win about 15 seats, and bargaining keeps the BJP away from taking over the reigns in the state.