Jharkhand panchayat polls: 50 percent voting in first phase (Second Lead)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

RANCHI - The first phase of Jharkhand’s maiden panchayat polls concluded Saturday with around 50 percent polling, an official said. The polls were largely peaceful barring stray incidents of violence.

“According to initial reports, 48 to 52 per cent polling has taken place in the first phase. Maoists tried to disrupt polling at a few places. Polling was by and large peaceful, barring a few minor incidents,” an official of Jharkhand state election commission told IANS.

Polling percentage was more than 60 percent in districts like Jamtara, Garwah, Giridh and Deoghar.

Polling began at 7 a.m. amid tight security and concluded at 3 p.m.

At a few places, supporters of candidates clashed while polling in two panchayats - Matuka and Doya - was postponed. At Matuka, two candidates were allocated the same symbol, and in Doya out of 18 candidates, only 10 names figured on the ballot papers.

Polling at three booths in Khuti districts was postponed as polling officials were late in reaching the venues.

Security forces and Maoists exchanged fire in Gumla district, while police recovered two landmines at Kajrula in Palamau district.

Defying a boycott call of Maoists, voters started queuing up at polling booths early Saturday.

“I am standing here since 6.15 a.m. We have got a chance to elect mukhiyas (panchayat heads) and will not let go of this chance,” said Jamunia Devi, a resident of Ormajhi block of Ranchi.

Jharkhand has reserved 50 percent of seats for women. The polls will be conducted in five phases.

Jharkhand deployed 426 companies of paratroopers and state police to ensure peaceful polling. Five helicopters too were used for air surveillance.

In the first phase, polling took place in a total 1,348 panchayats of 77 blocks. As many as 51,433 candidates were in the fray and 4,327,944 people were eligible to vote.

The last panchayat polls were held in 1979 when Jharkhand was part of Bihar. The polls were delayed in Jharkhand due to a legal battle over reservation to tribal people in scheduled areas (notified tribal areas).

Filed under: Politics

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