Campaigning ends for 3rd phase of polling in Jharkhand

 Campaigning for the third phase of polling on December 9, which saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi wooing voters, ended on Sunday.

Ranchi: Campaigning for the third phase of polling on December 9, which saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi wooing voters, ended on Sunday.

Fourteen of the 17 constituencies going to the polls are Maoist-affected and campaigning ended there at 3 PM.

Electioneering ended at the normal time at 5 PM at Kanke, Ranchi and Hatia constituencies, Election Commission officials said.

The Maoist-hit constiutencies are Kodarma, Barkatha, Barhi, Barkagaon, Ramgarh, Mandu, Hazaribagh, Simaria (SC), Dhanwar, Gomia, Bermo, Ichagarh, Silli and Khijri (ST) and are spread over Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Bokaro, Chatra, Seraikella/ Kharsawan, Ramgarh, Kodarma and Giridih districts.

Three ministers of the Hemant Soren government--Water Resources Minister Annapurna Devi (Kodarma-RJD), Finance Minister Rajendra Prasad Singh (Bermo-Cong) and Drinking and Sanitation Minister Jaiprakash Bhai Patel (Mandu-JMM) are seeking re-election in this phase.

A total 289 candidates, including eight sitting MLAs, 26 women and 103 independents are in the fray in the third phase.

Lack of development in Jharkhand and corruption remained the twin issues in this round of campaigning by high-profile political leaders who promised to usher in progress if their parties were voted to power.

The Prime Minister, who had campaigned in the earlier phases too, in his election rally at Hazaribagh yesterday had said Jharkhand has enormous potential to become the number one state in the country and batted for a majority government.

Jharkhand, he said, did not require a coalition government as it would not benefit anyone and that it needed one with commitment to the people's welfare.

Shah had alleged that Congress made Madhu Koda, an independent candidate, the state's Chief Minister who went to jail on corruption charges.

Rahul Gandhi, who addressed poll meetings in all the three phases too, had accused BJP of wanting to snatch power instead of empowering the people.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during campaigning had said Jharkhand has enormous potential for development and the people should vote for BJP to realide it, while RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav had asked the people to reject BJP and vote for Congress/RJD/JD-U combine for the development.

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Chhatisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh also campaiged for BJP.

Shibu Soren and Chief Minister Hemant Soren were the chief campaigners for their party JMM.

Congress had won five of the 17 seats in the 2009 polls, while BJP bagged four, AJSU three, JVM-P three, RJD and ruling JMM one each. The Jharkhand Assembly has 81 elected seats.

This time ruling JMM is contesting alone in 16 of the 17 seats and supporting an independent in Dhanwar seat after the nomination of the MLA from the seat in the outgoing House, Nizzamuddin Ansari was rejected by EC following his conviction in a murder case. Ansari had quit JVM and had filed papers as a JMM candidate.

BJP and Ajsu party, which are in alliance, have put up 14 and three candidates respectively.

Pre-poll partners Congress and RJD are in fray in 13 and three constitutencies respectively. There are no JD(U) candidates in the fray in this phase.

Hatia has the maximum 29 contestants and Silli the lowest number of 11 nominees, EC officials said, adding out of the 17 seats, two are reserved for SC and one for ST.

There are as many as 2,713,65 voters in the 18/19 age group.

There are a total 5,865, including 31 auxiliary, polling stations.

A total 29,310 polling personnel have been deployed but details of their deployment have not been disclosed as per a decision by the EC.

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