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Booth strategies keep candidates busy
- Rebel-hit Palamau votes today; parties keep fingers crossed

Daltonganj/Garhwa, April 9: Campaigning is merely one part of the job. The real challenge lies in ensuring effective booth management on V-Day, something that kept candidates, their poll managers and leaders, cutting across political lines, on toes a day before Palamau constituency votes tomorrow.

“You are a sitting MLA. If the list of our representatives at the polling booths in Bhavnathpur Assembly segment has not reached the district administration, kindly see how it can be done, instead of calling me up,” RJD state president Girinath Singh was heard telling Anant Pratap Deo of the Congress.

Deo was not the only one to be bothering Singh with calls. Frenetic phone calls kept coming from other MLAs and party colleagues as well, seeking last-minute suggestions to tackle a crisis.

The RJD has fielded Manoj Kumar Bhuiyan from Palamau, its sole nominee in Jharkhand. No wonder, the party is leaving no stone unturned to ensure a win for Bhuiyan, who has considerable hold in rural areas.

“This time, we are locked in a direct fight with the BJP. We are also getting the support of Congress and JMM. Namdhariji (Inder Singh Namdhari) is also rooting for us. Laluji has made it clear that he would be granting tickets to local leaders in the next Assembly elections on the basis of this election’s results. Other parties too may be doing the same,” Singh said.

Former DGP V.D. Ram, a poll first-timer fielded by the BJP, seemed to be taking it easy. He hasn’t slept properly since much before he was formally given the party ticket and campaigns began. Yet, he was not one to complain.

“Earlier, people used to come to me, now I am approaching them. All these years, I only solved their problems (in the capacity of the DGP). Now, I have to deal with wide-ranging issues. I received good response everywhere during campaigning,” said Ram, who left his hotel around 7am and drove to the party office.

Manoj Dube of Khajuria village in Garhwa district, however, said: “True that the JVM may create divisions in the BJP vote bank, but the RJD is facing a bigger threat from Ghuran Ram (JVM) and Kameshwar Baitha (Trinamul Congress),” he argued.

As for Baitha, he was busy clarifying his position after a local news channel aired a video clip last evening, which showed the sitting MP “grabbing” a woman dancer at a public function last year.

“These are ploys to malign me. I remained a Naxalite for 24 years, police could not do anything to me. Naxalism is still there. Now, I am challenging the police in mainstream politics as well,” he said, indirectly targeting V.D. Ram, who, according to him, is being patronised by the official machinery.

According to Palamau deputy commissioner K.N. Jha, there are 1,928 polling stations and 1,645,075 voters in the constituency. Only 48 booths in the town area are peaceful, while the rest come under sensitive and hyper-sensitive categories.

This apart, 288 booths of adjoining Chatra Lok Sabha constituency, all located in rebel zones, also fall under the jurisdiction of Palamau district administration.