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The first round

Security isnít the only nightmare in these four contentious seats that go to polls on April 10. While turncoats and sitting MPs are having to vie with each other, one angry politicianís absence is making a mark, too

The shadow of Inder Singh Namdhari looms large on Chatra, part of a Naxalite hub that extends to Palamau and Latehar. A sitting MP who has been snubbed by the BJP and has, therefore, quit the race, he has managed to get the local BJP unit speak up against party nominee Sunil Kumar. And hoping to reap the benefits are the Congressís Dhiraj Prasad, a Rajya Sabha MP, and the Ajusís Nagmani, a perennial turncoat whose latest switch was from NCP. Zilla parishad member Neelam Devi will need a lot public support from Marandi to be considered a serious contender.

The seat makes up Assembly segments of Chatra, Simaria, Latehar, Panki and Manika across districts of Chatra, Latehar and Palamau.

Babulal Marandi has moved to Dumka to fight his big battle with Shibu Soren, but has left his bastion for Pranav, the son of late Ritlal Prasad Verma, who represented Koderma in Parliament for a record five tenures, three of them for the BJP. CPI(ML)ís Pranav registered a dramatic entry into the hustings by filing his nomination the very day he was released after being arrested in an old case. Both the Congressís Tilakdhari and the BJPís Ravindra Rai are Bhumihars and are expected to go all out to woo community.

The seat makes up Assembly segments of Koderma, Barkattha, Dhanwar, Bagodar, Jamua and Gandey across districts of Koderma, Giridih and Hazaribagh.

The poll heat is rising in Lohardaga the Congressís Rameshwar Oraon, a former MP and a former IPS officer, trying, albeit in vain, to embroil his TMC rival Chamra Linda in an ďoffice of profitĒ row. Linda is an Independent MLA from Bishunpur. In 2004, he made things difficult for the BJP's Sudarshan Bhagat while Oraon was pushed to third place. This time, too, Linda may queer the Congressís pitch but end up helping the BJPís sitting MP. JVMís Birendra Bhagat is banking on his boss Marandiís pull in the region.

The seat makes up Assembly segments of Lohardaga, Mandar, Bishunpur, Sisai and Gumla across districts of Lohardaga, Gumla and Ranchi.

Kameshwar, a former Maoist who won the seat on a JMM ticket, is the man to watch. He switched over to the TMC in protest against the ruling coalitionís decision to allow the RJD to contest the seat as per an agreement reached between allies Congress, JMM, and RJD, when the Hemant Soren government was formed in July last year. This time, he is up against the BJPís V.D. Ram, the former DGP of the state. Party chief Lalu Prasad has already held two campaign meetings for his nominee, Manoj, while the JVMís Ghuran Ram, a former MP, is banking on his good image.

The seat makes up Assembly segments of Daltonganj, Bishrampur, Chhattarpur, Hussainabad, Garhwa and Bhavanathpur across districts of Palamau and Garhwa.

COMPILED BY AMIT GUPTA