The first of five-phase 2019 Assembly polls in Jharkhand are taking place in thirteen Naxal hit constituencies where seven seats were won by the ruling BJP in 2014.
This time?Though results will be out on December 23. The electoral wind appears to be blowing against the BJP ruled by Chief Minister Raghubar Das in Jharkhand.
In fact, Naxals had been contained by security forces. Yet, they had declared a boycott of these polls. This was indicated by posters put up by them in a few pockets of Latehar and Chatra,
Security forces have been deployed in all these constituencies to ensure free, fair and peaceful polls."We are prepared to fix them and help people to vote without any sense of fear", said a senior police officer.
The environment has been peaceful till date. The traffic during the day and night was normal and dhabas and paan shops remain open during the night. This emergent reality was a dream in 2014 when the electorates gave a massive mandate leading to the majority rule of the ruling BJP led by Raghubar Das.
In these constituencies- Chatra, Gumla, Vishunpur, Lohardaga, Manika, Latehar, Panki, Vishrampur, Daltongunj, Vishrampur, Chattarpur, Hussainabad, Garhwa and Bhavnathpur-189 candidates are in the fray. Reports say they were out to exercise their franchise.
In 2014, while the BJP had won seven seats -Chatra, Manika, Gumla, Bishrampur, Chhatarpur, Garhwa and Daltongunj, the JMM had won one seat of Bishunpur. The Congress had won two seats of Lohardaga and Panki. Similarly, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, Independent and Bahujan Samaj Party had won Daltongunj, Bhavnathpur and Hussainabad respectively.
This time two sitting MLAs-Independent Bhanu Pratap Shahi, who was out of jail on bail in corruption cases and the Congress' Sukhdeo Bhagat had joined the ruling BJP and were contesting their seats on the ruling party's symbol.
The total electorates are 37 lakh 83 thousand and 55. Among them, women electorates who constitute almost half of them-18 lakh 1000 and 356 are expected to play a crucial role. The number of third gender electorates is in single digit-five. How many of them cast their votes remains to be seen.