Brisk polling in key Jharkhand by election (Lead)

January 5th, 2009 - 7:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, Jan 5 (IANS) Ignoring a Maoist poll boycott call, people turned up in large numbers to vote in the key Jharkhand assembly by-election in Tamar from where Chief Minister Shibu Soren is seeking entry to the state legislature. Around 58 percent polling was recorded, election officials said. Voting began at 7 a.m. amid tight security. Around 70 companies of security forces, including 28 companies of paramilitary forces, were deployed in the region.

Ten people were arrested for creating trouble during polling.

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 in July last year.

Shibu Soren, chief of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), visited many polling booths and was seen asking people to cast their votes.

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

Around 158,000 people are eligible to exercise their franchise to pick 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 some places, a few areas saw a low voter turnout due to the fear of Maoists, who have called for a boycott of the election.

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

The counting will take place Jan 8.

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