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Polling begins in four Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand

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NewsDrum Desk
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Ranchi: Voting in four Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand began on Monday morning amid tight security measures, marking the first phase of elections in the eastern state, poll officials said.

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Voting started at 7 am in Singhbhum, Lohardaga, Khunti and Palamu seats, and will continue till 5 pm.

Of these, Singhbum, Lohardaga and Khunti are ST-reserved and Palamu is reserved for Scheduled Castes.

In Maoist-affected Singhbhum, polling parties and material were air-dropped in 126 polling stations, they said.

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

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.

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

"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.

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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.

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 an 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 main rivals on issues such as corruption, reservation, Constitution, and electoral promises.

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