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Mission mayoral poll turnout

Ranchi, May 31: Buoyed by the jump in turnout figure in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections in Jharkhand, the state poll panel and the local administration are now keen on repeating the feat in the June 23 Ranchi mayoral polls.

Ranchi deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey said the state election commission has urged them to increase the polling percentage by at least 50 per cent for which they will be kicking off a massive awareness campaign.

Jharkhand achieved a commendable polling percentage of 64 in the Lok Sabha polls with Ranchi constituency notching 63.74 per cent.

The Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) election, which was held on April 8, 2013, had registered a low voting percentage of 30.

But the mayoral elections were eventually cancelled over a cash-for-vote controversy involving former mayor and Congress loyalist Rama Khalkho. A day before the polls, police seized Rs 21.90 lakh from a city hotel, purportedly meant to influence voting in favour of Khalkho, who was eyeing a second term with tacit support from the Congress.

But the state poll panel is not only planning to beef up surveillance this time, it will also ensure that more voters turned up at the booths.

“In the Lok Sabha elections, Jharkhand was able to clock a good turnout, thanks to massive awareness drives. In the mayoral polls too, we are planning to launch an effective campaign to make voters understand that their votes are crucial to solve civic problems,” Choubey said.

The deputy commissioner added that they were planning to rope in the Federation of Jharkhand Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FJCCI), besides educating voters under the Centre’s Saakshar Bharat Mission.

“Under the Saakshar Bharat Mission, officials will visit the voters from door to door and urge them to choose their mayor. Besides, they will distribute voter slips, posters, pamphlets and booklets. But all these initiatives will start after the nomination process ends on June 4,” the deputy commissioner said.

In the RMC elections, photo voter slips were not sent to all households. This time, the administration will distribute the voter slips from the second week of June so that each voter is aware about his or her booth number, he added.

FJCCI president Bikash Kumar Singh said they were planning to help the administration create awareness about the mayoral elections by putting up banners, posters and flexes in every nook and corner of the city.

“We will also flag off vehicles carrying posters and banners for wooing voters. We have 2,300 members, many of who own shops and other business establishments. They will be asked to send SMSes to their customers,” Singh added.

Today, five candidates —Amit Kacchap, Ganesh Lohara, Durga Munda, Naveen Pratap Lakra and Antu Tirkey — purchased nomination forms for the polls. ADM Ravi Shankar Verma, the electoral officer for the mayoral polls, said 15 candidates had purchased forms so far.

Interestingly, none of them has filed their papers as yet.

A quick look

Wards: 55
Booths: 901
Voters: 7,12,371
Women: 3,31,695
Men: 3,80,676
First-time voters: 13,981


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