The five phase polling for the 81-seat Jharkhand Assembly concluded on Friday evening with exit polls indicating a hung assembly. Exit polls predicted the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)-led alliance in the lead, and incumbent Raghubar Das-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) likely to fall significantly short of the majority mark.
The fifth and final phase of polling in 16 assembly constituencies of Jharkhand passed off peacefully, Election Commission officials said in Ranchi. An estimated 70.83 per cent of the total 40.05 lakh voters exercised their franchise till 5 pm when the polling ended, they said.
According to the India Today-Axis exit poll, the BJP was on course to win 22 to 32 seats in the Jharkhand Assembly. It said the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) alliance could win 38 to 50-seats, while the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) likely to win 2 to 4-seats, All Jharkhand Students Union 3 to 5-seats and others 4 to 7 seats. The exit poll said the JMM-led alliance could corner 37 per cent of the votes to the BJP’s 34 per cent.
As the exit polls trickled in, AJSU’s Sudesh Mahato said his party was not closed to doing business with the BJP in future. The AJSU had parted ways with the BJP in the run up to the polls. It had won 5-seats in the 2014 Assembly polls. BJP candidate and Jharkhand Agriculture Minister Randhir Singh is seeking re-election from Sarath constituency, while another saffron party nominee and Women and Child Development Minister Louis Marandi is pitted against JMM working president Hemant Soren in Dumka. Marandi had defeated Soren in 2014 assembly elections. The JMM leader is also contesting the polls from Barhait seat. His sister-in-law Sita Soren is seeking re- election from Jama seat.
Among others, former deputy chief minister and sitting JMM MLA Stephen Marandi is seeking re-election from Maheshpur and JD(U)'s Jharkhand unit chief and ex-MP salkhan Murmu is contesting the polls from Sikaripara.
The seats that went to polls are Borio (ST), Barhait (ST), Litipara (ST), Maheshpur (ST), Sikaripara (ST), Rajmahal, Pakur, Nalla, Jamtara, Dumka (ST), Jama (ST), Jarmundi, Sarath, Poreyahat, Godda and Mahagama.
Out of 81 assembly seats in the states, elections concluded in 65 constituencies in the previous four phases — between November 30 and December 16. Counting has been scheduled on December 23. Of the 5,389 polling stations in the state, 396 in Naxal-affected areas have been marked “critical” and 208 as “sensitive”.
The Election Commission has set up 8,987 ballot units, 6,738 control units and 7,006 VVPAT machines.