Ranchi: Campaigning on Sunday ended in 13 Maoist-affected constituencies going to the polls on November 25 in the first phase of five-stage elections to the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly.
Electioneering had picked up in Palamau, Gumla and Latehar districts between November 21 and November 23 with Prime Narendra Narendra Modi and Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi canvassing for their respective candidates with the focal point being as to why Jharkhand remained backward and underdeveloped despite having abundant mineral resources.
Modi even compared the state with Australia having the same resources and population ratio, yet lagging far behind.
He also attacked JMM for dynastic rule in Jharkhand in a reference to JMM supremo Shibu Soren and his Chief Minister son Hemant Soren, while asking people to end "pariwarwad" (dynastic rule) and give the BJP an opportunity.
Responding to Modi's barb, Hemant Soren sought to know why the PM had appointed Jayant Sinha in his Cabinet even though Sinha's father Yashwant Sinha is a former Union Finance Minister.
Sonia Gandhi attacked Modi accusing BJP of being responsible for the underdevelopment as that party was in power in the state for 11 out of 14 years of the state's existence.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi claimed the Centre was slowly shelving the programmes initiated by the previous UPA government.
RJD leader Lalu Prasad talked about social justice and communal harmony while his b?te noire and Union Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation Ram Kripal Yadav said Prasad was not even fit to contest village-level elections.
Former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi claimed it was only his Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) that could bring development to the state and do justice.
Stray incidents of violence took place during the campaigning as Maoists allegedly torched campaign vehicles in Chatra and Gumla districts, while two clashes erupted in Daltonganj.
Altogether 199 candidates are in the fray in the first
phase of polling with BJP, Congress, JMM, JVM-P, RJD, JD(U), CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML-Liberation) and other regional parties fielding candidates.
Prominent candidates trying their luck are Jharkhand PCC leader Sukhdeo Bhagat (Lohardaga), former state Minister and now on bail in connection with a disproportionate assets case Kamlesh Singh (Hussainabad) and former Jharkhand Assembly Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari's son Dilip Singh Namdhari from Daltonganj. Namdhari is pitted against Congress candidate and state Minister K N Tripathi.
In Chhatarpur (SC) seat, BJP has fielded Radha Krishna Kishore with RJD nominating Manoj Kumar, while former Maoist and ex-MP Kameshwar Baitha is contesting on an SP ticket. Former Jharkhand Minister Sudha Choudhary is in the fray from the seat on a JD(U) ticket.
RJD's Jharkhand unit President and ex-Minister Girinath Singh is trying his luck from Garwha after being trounced in 2009 and is facing challenge from BJP's Satyendra Nath Tiwari, who defeated Singh on the previous occasion.
Former MP Brajmohan Ram is contesting on a BJP ticket from Latehar(SC), while JVM-P has fielded ex-MLA Prakash Ram and JMM has nominated Mohan Ganju from the seat.
In Panki, Congress has fielded Bidesh Singh, who won as an independent in the previous election and is pitted against BJP's Amit Kumar Tiwari and independent candidate Kushwaha Shashi Bhusan Mehta.
BJP has fielded its sitting MLA Harikrishna Singh from Manika (ST) seat with the JMM nominating Shilpa Kumar, Congress fielding Muneshwar Oraon and RJD giving ticket former MLA Ramchandra Singh.
For the Chatra(SC) Assembly segment, sitting MLA Janardan Paswan of RJD is pitted against former Minister Satyanand Bhokta of JVM-P, who quit BJP after being denied a ticket. BJP has fielded Jay Prakash Singh Bhokta, while JMM has nominated Manorama Devi for the seat.
Congress has fielded former IAS officer Binod Kispotta from Gumla(ST) Assembly seat, while JMM has fielded ex-MLA Bhusan Tirkey. BJP has dropped its sitting MLA Kamlesh Oraon and has nominated Shiv Shankar Oraon from Gumla.
In Lohardaga(ST), Sukhdeo Bhagat is pitted against sitting Ajsu party MLA Kamal Kishore Bhagat, who is being supported by BJP.
Bhanu Pratap Sahi, a Minister in the erstwhile Madhu Koda government, is contesting from Bhavnathpur and is facing a tough challenge from BJP's Anant Pratap Deo, who had won the seat on a Congress ticket last time.