Two of 13 Assembly constituencies where the first phase of polls was held today were in the eye of a storm. Both these constituencies -Panki and Bhawanathpur-are located in Naxal infested Jharkhand's Palamau division.
The polling percentage was 62.87 percent in 13 constituencies. Barring some odd incidents of crime, the polling passed of peacefully in the first phase of polls in Naxal hit areas of Jharkhand,
Even in Panki and Bhawanathpur, the polling percentage was 63.26 percent and 65.52 percent respectively and polling was held peacefully. However, as the clock ticked for the end of the poll at 3 pm on Saturday, BJP candidates in these two constituencies were facing haunting times. Reason?
The BJP has fielded ex JMM and Shashi Bhushan Mehta who is accused of the murder of a Ranchi based Oxford school teacher, Suchitra Mishra and has been facing trial in this murder case.
As per the charge sheet, Suchitra, a widow, who was a warden in school owned by Mehta. She was crushed to death by a vehicle. The post mortem report disclosed that she was pregnant at the time of her death.
Faced with the charge of murder and out of jail on bail, Mehta had joined the Opposition party Jharkhand Mukti Morcha in 2016 only to contest the by-poll from Panki seat and lost to the Congress's Devendra Singh.
On October 3 this year when he joined the BJP in a mega event at the BJP headquarter office in Ranchi, Chief Minister Raghubar Das, who backed him, was present. The event hit the headlines of the local media as relatives of late Suchitra including her son Abhisheikh stormed the stage leaving BJP bosses ducking for cover with their pointed questions.
Sadly, Mehta's supporters dared to manhandled Abhisheikh and his aunties. Later, Abhisheikh wrote and despatched a letter to Home Minister apprising him of the entire story. And yet, the BJP gave party ticket to him from Panki."We are ashamed of his(Mehta) political and criminal record", said a senior citizen who claims to have voted against him.
The BJP led by CM Raghubar Das had also fielded former Health Minister and sitting Independent MLA Bhanu Pratap Sahi from Bhawanathpur.Charge sheeted by the CBI, Shahi, who was Health Minister in the Madhu Koda and Shibu Soren governments, amassed property worth around 6.96 crores by misusing his official position. He remained in jail for years during the probe.
The ED later on filed a separate charge sheet against shahi under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, and amassing illegal assets to the tune of Rs 7.97 crore-which included income from alleged illegal property listed in the CBI charge sheet- and seized his property.
Against this backdrop, two electorates, who were aware of them, sounded critical of the ruling party as they growled at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's slogan: "Na Khaunga, Na Khane Dunga"(Neither will I indulge in corruption nor allow anyone else to indulge in it).
."What happened to your promise Modiji?", asked one of the voters.
This slogan remains etched in our minds—probably forever.