Of the six states and one union territory which went to vote in the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha elections, except for West Bengal, Jharkhand saw the highest voting percentage at 65%. West Bengal was at 80%.
Four constituencies went to vote and according to the Election Commission data, Giridih recorded 65.93% voter turnout, Dhanbad 61.90 %, Jamshedpur 66.44% and Singhbhum 67.79%.
In this third phase of polling, 67 candidates were in the fray. The battle in Giridih is between All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) nominee and state Water Resources Minister Chandraprakash Chowdhary and Jagannath Mahto of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).
According to sources, several upper-caste voters are upset at the nomination of Chowdhary, instead of their sitting MP Ravinder Pandey. This has led several of them to not step out or cast their votes in favour of NOTA. “Even Pandey’s supporters aren’t going around campaigning for Chowdhary. This is because Giridih is a coal belt and though Pandey and Mahto are on the opposite side of the poll spectrum, AAJSU’s win will ensure a third person gaining control in the coal belt. As a result, Pandey’s workers have been tacitly supporting the candidature of Mahto,” said a Giridih-based poll watcher.
In Dhanbad, PN Singh of the Bharatiya JanataParty (BJP) is taking on Kirti Azad, the BJP-rebel nominated by the Congress. Though there has been considerable heart-burn over the candidature of Kirti Azad, several party supporters believe that he could spring a surprise.
In the steel city of Jamshedpur, the contest is between Bidyut Baran Mahto of the BJP and Champai Soren of the JMM. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Bidyut Baran Mahato of the JMM shifted to the BJP and won the seat defeating Ajoy Kumar of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha with a margin of nearly one lakh votes. However, Jamshedpur is also the stronghold of JMM. There were around 4.5 lakh tribal voters and 2.5 lakh Kurmi voters in Jamshedpur.
In Singhbhum, where Laxman Giluwa of the BJP is pitted against Geeta Koda of the Congress, the win of Madhu Koda’s wife is a given. “One just had to see the reactions of those who attended Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Geeta Koda’s district. Her win is assured. The adivasis in the region place a lot of their trust the Kodas and Rahul Gandhi. The Kodas may have a corruption tag, but people in the district have faith in them,” said another poll watcher who did not want to be named.