The phase one of the Jharkhand Assembly elections registered a total voter turnout of 62.87%, the Election Commission said on Saturday. The first of the five-phase polling began in 13 Assembly constituencies on Saturday. It commenced at 7 AM and ended at 3 PM. A total of 37,83,055 electorate, including 18,01,356 women, and five third-gender voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in the first phase across six districts. The seats up for grabs were Chatra, Gumla, Bishunpur, Lohardaga, Manika, Latehar, Panki, Daltonganj, Bishrampur, Chhatarpur, Hussainabad, Garhwa, and Bhawanathpur. The rest of the four phases for the 81-member Assembly will be held on December 7, 12, 16 and 20. Counting is scheduled for December 23. Currently, the BJP holds an outright majority of 44 seats in the 81 seat Assembly.
Ahead of the first phase of the Assembly elections, Jharkhand authorities in a press conference had apprised about the provisions they had made based on demographics. They divided booths based on the number of men, women, as well as disabled who are likely to cast their votes. Special provisions were made for the disabled to cast their votes effortlessly. The authorities had also divided booths into Maoist and non-Maoist booths. The booths were then further divided into sensitive and hypersensitive. Around 1,057 booths were marked under Maoist highly sensitive category.
Police maintained a tight vigil in the Maoist-infested areas. ADG of Jharkhand Murari Lal Meena before the polling began had said, "Keeping in mind the fact that the first phase of elections are being held in mostly Maoist infested areas and there are 1500 hypersensitive booths, deployment of forces has been done both on the ground and in air. Patrolling would be done in the air on special choppers." Meanwhile, Naxals blew up a bridge in Bishnupur in Gumla district, according to ANI. No injuries were reported.
BJP, which is seeking a second straight win under the leadership of Chief Minister Raghubar Das, is contesting in 12 seats in the first phase while it is supporting Independent candidate Vinod Singh from Hussainabad. The AJSU party is contesting on its own. The other parties contesting the elections are Babulal Marandi's Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), Janata Dal (United) and the Left parties.