Jharkhand panchayat polls record 64 percent voting (Third Lead)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

RANCHI - The first phase of Jharkhand’s maiden panchayat elections concluded Saturday with around 64 percent balloting, an official said. The voting was largely peaceful barring stray incidents of violence.

“According to reports, 64 percent polling has taken place in the first phase. Maoists tried to disrupt polling at a few places, but it was by and large peaceful, barring a few minor incidents,” an official of the Jharkhand State Election Commission told IANS.

Voter turnout was more than 60 percent in districts like Jamtara, Garwah, Giridh and Deoghar, and nearly 79 percent in Seraikela-Kharsawa district.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda congratulated the people for the high turnout.

I congratulate people who came in large numbers to vote in the polls. These are taking place after 31 years and this will strengthen grassroot democracy and help governance. The polls will help people in the direction of self-rule, Munda told reporters.

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

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

In three booths in Khuti district, balloting was postponed as officials were late in reaching the polling stations.

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 the 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 elevtions are to 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 elections were held in 1979 when Jharkhand was part of Bihar. The subsequent polls could not be held in Jharkhand due to a legal battle over reservation to tribal people in scheduled areas (notified tribal areas).

In the absence of elected panchayats, the state loses out on more than Rs.300-400 crore annually in central assistance, which are provided to these local governments directly.

Filed under: Politics

will not be displayed