Rural voters in Jharkhand defy Maoist boycott call
Rural voters including women in Jharkhand defied Maoists boycott calls to register over 70 per cent polling in the first phase of the panchayat polls in the state.
People turned up in large numbers on Saturday morning to cast their votes at all the 14,079 polling booths across 72 blocks in 21 out of the 24 districts.
There were long queues of voters as soon as the polling began at 7am. At around 5.30pm, the average voting percentage was around 70 per cent.
“Since the voting was held in ballot papers, we are receiving voting percentages from different districts. Till now (5.30pm) we have received information from 11 districts and are still awaiting a percentage from 10 other districts,” said a senior official in Jharkhand state election commission office.
“There has been no report of any untoward incidents in any of the polling booths which went to polls on Saturday. Polling went off smoothly barring a few places where some discrepancies were found in ballot papers. We will take a decision on repoll after going through the report,” said Jharkhand state election commission secretary Radhe Shyam Prasad.
In the first phase, 52 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise. The other phases of the elections will be held on May 19, 24 and 29.
In Ilami panchayat in Pakur district on the West Bengal border, monitoring is being done with the help of drones, superintendent of police Hrudeep P. Janardhanan said.
“Strict action will be taken if anyone tries to create disturbance during the polls,” he said.
Polling is going on smoothly in Maoist-hit Peshrar and Kisko blocks in Lohardaga district, officials said.
Total 5,704 polling booths have been declared sensitive, while 5,450 booths were identified as hypersensitive.
Polling is underway peacefully in Ramgarh, Giridih and Deoghar, election officials said.
Chief minister Hemant Soren said: “The first phase of polling has started today for the panchayat elections in Jharkhand. Best wishes to all the candidates, voters and election workers on the occasion of this great festival of democracy.”
Polling was held in the first phase in 1,127 panchayats to elect 7,303 panchayat members, 1,117 mukhiyas, 1,256 panchayat committee members and 143 zilla parishad members. A total of 30,221 candidates are in the fray.
Total 6,231 seats were decided uncontested in the first phase.
Votes will be counted on May 17.
Panchayat polls in the state are being held in four phases with the last phase scheduled on May 29.