Friday, April 24, 2009

Jharkhand: Maoists and mercury rule

24 Apr 2009, 0607 hrs IST, TNN

RANCHI: Red terror and soaring mercury kept many voters away from polling booths in Jharkhand. Only 47% turned out to vote in eight constituencies
which went to polls in the second and final phase, keeping three former CMs and a Union minister on tenterhooks. The low turnout in urban areas sparked fears that this would impact the victory margin.

Former Cm Shibu Soren, who is also JMM candidate in Dumka parliamentary and Jamtara assembly seats, held a mahamritunjay jaap at his farmhouse which concluded today in Bokaro. The mantra chanting was reportedly held at the behest of wife Rupi for both his health and win. Soren himself was skeptical. "My political career has been so bumpy that winning or losing elections does not make any difference to me anymore," Soren had said earlier.

The party in fact is in a sorry state this time with fissures surfacing in the UPA alliance as Soren's son Durga fielded himself as the JMM candidate from Godda where a Congress candidate was already contesting as part of the understanding between UPA partners.

Moreover, Soren's absence from Jharkhand due to his poor health has also taken its toll on the prospects of the party, with doubts being expressed about Soren's own position on the two seats. According to reports, Dumka registered a very poor turnout of around 35-40%. "Baba is worried and wants to be left alone," Soren's family told the media.

In Ranchi, Subodh Kant Sahay, who is the Congress candidate, was looking similarly disappointed by the low turnout.

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