Godda, Dec. 11: Flag marches, heavy police and paramilitary deployment and sealing of all entry points to the constituency marked the final hours before the byelection to the Godda Lok Sabha constituency.
While the administration described the situation as under control, undercurrents of tension ran in all six Assembly segments with reports of a large number of “outsiders” having fanned out in the constituency.
Four legislators — Pradeep Yadav (BJP), Sanjay Yadav (RJD), Furkan Ansari (Congress) and Hussain Ansari (JMM) — are locked in a fight in the seat, where the “key to success” lies in the manner in which voters from the minority community will exercise their franchise tomorrow. Jharkhand Vikas Party leader Suraj Mandal is also in the fray.
The Election Commission’s instructions for compulsory identity verification at the polling booths have generated much heat among the contesting parties.
Commenting on the heavy deployment and extraordinary security arrangements, a senior police official said: “A large number of anti-social elements has entered the constituency from Bihar with a view to create disturbances. The heavy preparation is intended to counter any untoward incident tomorrow.”
Dumka police superintendent Nandu Prasad said there was “more than enough” force this time while his Godda counterpart Baljeet Singh was confident of handling the situation.
JMM veteran Stephen Marandi alleged that there were ample instances to establish that the government machinery was favouring the ruling BJP’s nominee.
Godda deputy commissioner K.K. Khandelwal has directed the officials to strictly enforce identity verification in line with the Election Commission’s directive. He said polling officials had been empowered to satisfy themselves about a person’s identity before allowing him to vote.
But Stephen Marandi said: “During the Dumka parliamentary bypoll, the administration had tried to curb the fundamental rights of the voters in the remote villages on the grounds of identity verification. After a strong protest, the traditional method of verification was adopted. The orders on strict enforcement have come at the last moment so that no protest can be lodged.”
Furkan Ansari and Sanjay Yadav also criticised the move and said it would deprive a large number of voters from exercising their franchise.
“A poor landless villager can very well be enlisted as a voter. But how can he produce a voter identity card, land documents, driving licence, bank passbook or a ration card' A large number of people has none of these. There is foul play,” Sanjay Yadav said.