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Jharkhand records 27 per cent voter turnout till 11 am

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NewsDrum Desk
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Ranchi, May 13 (PTI) Nearly 27 per cent voter turnout was recorded till 11 am in four Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand on Monday, elections officials said here.

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Voting started at 7 am in Singhbhum, Lohardaga, Khunti and Palamu seats amid tight security measures, marking the first phase of elections in the eastern state, and will continue till 5 pm.

Maoist-hit Singhbhum seat saw about 26.16 per cent voter turnout till 11 am while the same was at 29.14 per cent, about 27.77 per cent and 26.95 per cent in Khunti, Lohardaga and Palamu seats respectively.

Union Minister and BJP candidate from Khunti Lok Sabha seat Arjun Munda said he was "confident that the people of the country will elect BJP and make Narendra Modi Prime Minister once again." Munda voted along with his wife Meera Munda at booth no 172, Khelarisai in Kharsawan under Khunti seat. His rival Congress's Kalicharan Munda also exercised his right of franchise and claimed he was going to win by a margin of over 50,000 votes this time.

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JMM candidate from Singhbhum Lok Sabha seat Joba Manjhi and BJP candidate from Lohardaga Samir Oroan have also exercised their franchise.

So far the polling has been peaceful in the four Lok Sabha seats, officials said.

Over 64.37 lakh electors, including 32.07 lakh women and 42 persons belonging to the third gender, are eligible to exercise their franchise.

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In all, 45 candidates, including Union Minister Arjun Munda, are in the fray, with the highest number of 15 contestants in Lohardaga, followed by Singhbhum (14), Palamu (9), and Khunti (7).

To ensure transparency and security, 15,000 4D cameras have been installed across all constituencies for webcasting, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) K Ravi Kumar said.

A total of 30,380 polling officials have been deployed across 7,595 booths, he added.

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"Polling parties and materials were air dropped in remote areas of Maoist-hit Singhbhum," West Singhbhum Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer Kuldeep Chaudhary said.

Singhbhum, which includes Saranda, Asia's densest Sal forest, is among the worst Maoist-affected areas in the country. BJP's Geeta Kora, who won the seat on a Congress ticket in 2019, faces competition from INDIA bloc's Joba Manjhi.

In Khunti, Union minister and BJP nominee Arjun Munda competes directly against INDIA bloc's Kalicharan Munda. The saffron party leader had secured a narrow victory in the seat in 2019.

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Lohardaga might witness a triangular contest, with JMM's Bishunpur MLA Chamra Linda entering the fray as an Independent candidate, challenging BJP's Samir Oraon and INDIA bloc's Sukhdeo Bhagat. The Congress was allocated this seat under the JMM-led ruling alliance's seat-sharing agreement.

Palamu presents a direct contest between BJP's sitting MP Vishnu Dayal Ram and RJD's Mamta Bhuiyan as INDIA bloc candidate.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, BJP had secured 11 seats and its ally AJSU Party one, while Congress and JMM won one seat each.

The intense campaigning leading up to the first phase of polls witnessed heated exchanges between rival political parties on issues such as corruption, reservation, Constitution, and electoral promises. PTI NAM SAN RG

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