A jawan keeps vigil outside the strongroom at Pandra Bazar in Ranchi on Tuesday. Counting for the mayoral poll will take place on Friday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
A day after the mayor election in Ranchi, candidates — baffled by the below average turnout — on Tuesday began half-hearted preparations for Friday’s verdict.
Monday had witnessed 17.72 per cent polling compared to 27 per cent in the municipal poll last year when voting for the mayor’s post was cancelled over a cash-for-vote controversy. This time, only 1.28 lakh voters among 7.26 lakh exercised their franchise.
Mayor hopeful Barsa Gadi, who is being backed by Ajsu, did not hide her disappointment.
“Not for a moment do I want to accept my defeat before the results are out, but a better turnout would have definitely boosted my confidence,” she said, adding that she left no stone unturned during campaigning.
Gadi had been banking on voters from Dhurwa wards, like No. 39 and No. 41, besides fringe areas of the city. Slum-dwellers were her campaign focus. Unfortunately, she found few takers.
“Areas I considered my strongholds did not perform as expected. Since 6am, I was camping in Dhurwa, requesting people to come out and vote. I stayed for two-three hours and a few dozen did vote. I don’t know what happened after that,” she rued while taking stock of situation outside the Pandra market strongroom.
BJP-backed Asha Lakra, who until election day was hoping to sail smooth on Modi wave, too sounded perplexed on Tuesday.
“The margin of victory will be wafer-thin. I am, however, confident of my core pockets in urban areas, where 200-300 people voted for me. Let’s see what happens,” she said.
On preparations for counting, she said: “We will depute around 70 people. Counting will take place on 21 tables. Modalities are being worked out.”
Candidate Naveen Lakra, who faced a showcause from district electoral officer Vinay Kumar Choubey last week for a TMC ad in his support, sounded dejected over booth attendance on Monday.
“Jispe bharosa tha, jab wohi nahi nikle vote dene toh ab kuch socha bhi nahi ja sakta. (I can’t think positive when most voters chose to stay away from booths),” he said, adding that he spent the day relaxing and would “mobilise supporters” for counting day from Wednesday.