Polling underway in key Jharkhand by-election

January 5th, 2009 - 1:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, Jan 5 (IANS) Polling was underway Monday in Jharkhand’s key assembly constituency of Tamar, from where Chief Minister Shibu Soren is seeking entry to the state legislature.Voting in the by-poll began at 7 a.m. amid tight security. Around 70 companies of security forces, including 28 companies of paramilitary forces, have been deployed in the region.

Around 158,000 people are eligible to exercise their franchise and elect their representative from the 15 candidates in the fray. Of the total 247 polling booths, 180 have been declared highly sensitive and the rest are sensitive.

While brisk polling was reported from a few places, some areas saw a low voter turnout due to the fear of Maoists, who have called for a boycott of the election.

Tamar is one of the worst Maoist-affected areas of Jharkhand, where the left-wing rebels virtually run a parallel government. The by-election was necessitated after sitting legislator and former minister, Ramesh Singh Munda of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), was killed by the rebels July last year.

Soren’s main rivals are Munda’s widow Basundhara Munda of Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and Raja Peter of Jharkhand Party (JP).

The contest is crucial for Soren as he has to get elected to the state assembly before Feb 27 to fulfil the constitutional obligation of becoming a member of the state legislature within six months of assuming office. He had taken over as chief minister Aug 27 last year.

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