Four seats up for grabs today as Jharkhand begins voting in Lok Sabha elections - Hindustan Times
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Four seats up for grabs today as Jharkhand begins voting in Lok Sabha elections

By, Ranchi
May 12, 2024 10:06 PM IST

Approximately 6.4 million voters in Jharkhand will vote for Lok Sabha seats in the upcoming fourth phase, with high-profile candidates in the fray.

Approximately 6.4 million voters are set to exercise their franchise to elect representatives for four Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand—Khunti, Singhbhum, Lohardaga, and Palamu—in the upcoming fourth phase of parliamentary elections scheduled for Monday.

Vehicles on election duty parked at the Birsa College Stadium on the eve of the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections, in Khunti. (PTI)
Vehicles on election duty parked at the Birsa College Stadium on the eve of the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections, in Khunti. (PTI)

The 14 Lok Sabha seats in the state have been divided into four phases of polling, starting from the fourth phase nationally.

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All four constituencies where voting would be held on Monday are reserved seats, with Palamu reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs), while the other three are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs).

“Polling would be held across 23 assembly segments spread across nine districts,” officials said.

Some of the high-profile names in the fray include Union tribal affairs and agriculture minister Arjun Munda, who is seeking a second term from Khunti.

Munda, a three-term chief minister of Jharkhand and one of the seniormost leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state, is locked in a direct battle against Congress’s Kalicharan Munda.

In 2019, Kalicharan had lost to Arjun Munda by a thin margin of 1,445 votes.

While 45 candidates are in the fray across the four seats, notable candidates include BJP candidates Geeta Kora from Singhbhum, Rajya Sabha MP and national president of BJP’s ST Wing Samir Oraon, and two-term sitting MP from Palamu VD Ram.

From the INDIA bloc, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has fielded former minister and five-term MLA Joba Majhi against Kora, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has fielded Mamata Bhuiyan from Palamu, former state president of Congress Sukhdeo Bhagat from Lohardaga, and Kalicharan Munda from Khunti.

Former Palamu MP Kameshwar Baitha, a former Maoist who holds the distinction of having won the 2009 Lok Sabha elections from jail on a JMM ticket, is in the fray again on a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket this time around.

The stakes are high for the BJP in this phase as the party had won Khunti, Lohardaga, and Palamu in 2019.

Kora won the Singhbhum seat in 2019 on a Congress ticket, but she crossed over to the BJP two months back.

Palamu is all set to witness a poll battle between sitting MP Vishnu Dayal Ram, a BJP candidate and Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) Mamta Bhuiyan. RJD has fielded Mamta Bhuiyan as a INDIA bloc candidate.

The BJP has emerged as a dominant party with landmark victories in the past two elections.

Vishnu Dayal Ram, a former Director General of Police, had won the Palamu seat - the only scheduled caste reserved constituency in the state.

He was a 1973 batch IPS officer and had served as DGP of Jharkhand Police twice from July 1, 2005 to September 27, 2006 and from August 4, 2007 to January 13, 2010. He has earlier served as SP of Bhagalpur and SSP of Patna. After retirement, he joined Bharatiya Janata Party and won the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Palamu.

On the other hand, Mamta Bhuiyan while filing her nomination papers had termed development, migration, and unemployment as the key issues. She had said, “This time, RJD, and INDIA alliance with all the partners will create a new history. The key issue of Palamu is development. Another main issue is migration and unemployment and we will try to curb it.”

Palamu is one of the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies and comprises six Assembly segments--Daltonganj, Bishrampur, Chattarpur, Hussainabad, Garhwa, and Bhawanathpur.

Palamu is an interesting Lok Sabha seat for the parties as the constituency boasts of some minerals like Iron ore, Bauxite, Lithium, Dolomite, and Coal as well as industries like Bihar Caustic and Chemicals Limited and Japla Cement Company.

While all sides are claiming victory in the first phase, a BJP insider said the first phase is crucial for the saffron party.

“This phase is crucial for us also because three of the five seats reserved for scheduled tribes are going to polls. In 2019, we won three of five seats last time but were washed out in most of the ST seats in assembly elections. This would be a test to see whether tribal sentiments have revived for the BJP or are still in favour of the JMM and Congress. We think we are comfortable in general seats. The real battle is on the reserved seats,” a senior BJP leader said, requesting anonymity.

Election Commission officials said they have made all preparations to ensure maximum voter turnout.

In 2019, the turnout in Singhbhum was 69.26 per cent, 69.25 per cent in Khunti, 66.30 per cent in Lohardaga and 64.34 per cent in Palamu.

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