Altogether 13.49 percent of 3.54 lakh voters exercised their franchise till 9 AM on Thursday in the by-election to Mandar assembly seat in Jharkhand’s Ranchi district, an election official said.
Polling began at 7 AM amid tight security arrangements and it will continue till 4 PM. Voting is underway peacefully and no untoward incident has been reported so far, Chief Electoral Officer K Ravi Kumar.
”We are monitoring the situation. CCTV cameras have been installed, besides webcasting facilities in sensitive booths. We are also getting information from zonal magistrates,” he said.
Voting is taking place in 433 polling stations, with 141 booths having been declared hyper-sensitive, 218 as sensitive, and 55 as vulnerable. Over 3.54 lakh voters, including 1.75 lakh women, are eligible to exercise their franchise in the by-election to decide the electoral fate of 14 candidates in the fray. The votes will be counted on June 26.
More than 3,000 security personnel, including Jharkhand Armed Police (JAP), CRPF, and SSB, have been deployed.
The by-election was necessitated after the disqualification of Bandhu Tirkey as an MLA in the wake of his conviction in a corruption case.
Congress has fielded Bandhu’s daughter, Shilpa Neha Tirkey, as the common candidate of the JMM-led alliance, while BJP has nominated former legislator Gangotri Kujur for the seat.
An independent candidate Dev Kumar Dhan, with backing from Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), is also in the fray.
Chief Minister Hemant Soren tweeted, ”Voting for Mandar assembly by-election is going on today. This is the fourth bypoll the state is witnessing in 2.5 years. I am sure that the people of Mandar will give priority to the public welfare by defeating lies and arrogance in this by-election. The ideology of Jharkhandi and Jharkhandiyat will be further strengthened.” BJP national vice-president and former chief minister Raghubar Das in a Twitter post said, ”There is a by-election to the Mandar assembly seat today. I appeal to all the voters of Mander to vote against familyism and corruption in large numbers and help win the BJP’s development and good governance.”