Voters await their chance at Cambrian Public School in Ranchi on Thursday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
The Election Commission’s massive drive to improve voting figures yielded results on Thursday when Ranchi constituency with its large urban base recorded 59 per cent polling, a 14 per cent jump from the last election.
In the 2009 polls, the constituency, comprising the six Assembly segments of Ranchi, Hatia, Kanke, Silli, Ichagarh and Khijri, had clocked a mere 44.73 per cent voting percentage. Urban areas like Ranchi and Hatia had polled around 35 per cent votes.
But urban voters seemed to have bucked that trend this year with even people based outside the state, including state icon for voter awareness and ace archer Deepika Kumari, turning up to vote.
Around 9am, chief minister Hemant Soren, accompanied by wife Kalpana Soren, exercised his franchise at booth No. 233 at St Francis School in Harmu, where arrangements for distributing roses and spraying perfume had been made. In the long queue that waited outside was Utsav Vatsa, a 24-year-old youth who came from New Delhi after taking leave from office.
“I am exercising my franchise for the first time. I would have cast my vote much before if the EVM had not malfunctioned,” he said.
If Utsav eventually got a chance to vote, Rachna Agrawal was not as lucky.
The 47-year-old resident of Harmu Housing Colony was spotted crying at Sahajanand Chowk in Harmu around 1pm because she could not vote, as her name didn’t appear on the voter list.
“I have my voter ID but my name does not appear at any polling booth in the colony. When I checked the Election Commission’s website to find my booth number, it suggests that that the owner of my card is some Purnima Kerketta,” said the wife of an Allahabad Bank official.
Agrawal was not alone. Others like journalist Shreyasi Mishra and St Xavier’s College teacher Santosh K. Kiro were also disappointed.
State chief electoral officer P.K. Jajoria said: “The EC had launched massive publicity drives and special camps so that voters could verify their names on the electoral list. People should have used that opportunity,” he said.
The elections went largely peaceful barring a few sporadic incidents of scuffles and altercations at some booths.
At a booth at DAV School, Bariatu, BJP and Congress workers fought. Two Congress supporters were injured. Altercations took place between Trinamul Congress and Congress workers over allegations of bogus voting at Hindpiri; and between BJP and Congress men at Dhurwa.