Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jharkhand votes in Phase I, Naxal threat looms large

Jaishanker / CNN-IBN

Ranchi: Jharkhand is all set for its first phase of Assembly elections on Wednesday amidst tight security even as the Naxals have called for a boycott of the polls.

The state police and central paramilitary forces are deployed across the state. Borders of the 26 out of the 81 Assembly segments going to polls on Wednesday have been sealed and the Army has been staging flag marches in all districts.

Nearly 200 booths have been declared sensitive by the authorities.

"Arrangements have been made so that the voters can safely cast their votes. Special arrangements have been made in the sensitive areas," Jharkhand Director General of Police BD Ram said.

The security threat has not, however, dampened campaigning with the hawala case against former chief minister Madhu Koda providing the sparks.

The fight is a three-cornered one between the National Democratic Alliance, the Congress, which has a tie-up with Babulal Marandi's Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.

"The first phase of elections is on November 25. There are 65, 32, 234 voters who are eligible to cast their votes for the 470 aspirants who are vying for the Assembly seats," said Joint Chief Electoral Officer Ashok Kumar Sinha.

The remaining four phases will be over by December 18 and the results will be declared on December 23.

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