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61 % turnout in peaceful Mandar by-poll, Congress, BJP in close fight in crucial by-election 

Ranchi, June 23: Altogether 61 per cent of 3.54 lakh voters exercised their franchise till 4 PM on Thursday in the by-election to Mandar assembly seat in Jharkhand’s Ranchi district, an election official said.


Polling began at 7 AM amid tight security arrangements. Voting is underway peacefully and no untoward incident has been reported so far, Chief Electoral Officer K Ravi Kumar.


“We are monitoring the situation. CCTV cameras have been installed, besides webcasting facilities in sensitive booths. We are also getting information from zonal magistrates,” he said.


Voting is taking place in 433 polling stations, with 141 booths having been declared hyper-sensitive, 218 as sensitive, and 55 as vulnerable.


BJP candidate Gangotri Kujur and Independent nominee Deo Kumar Dhan cast their votes. Congress candidate Shilpi Neha Turkey is a voter in Hatia constituency. There is a keen contest between Mahagathbandhan-backed Congress candidate and BJP leader in the crucial by-election which is being seen as a litmus test of Hemant Soren government after charges of corruption were labelled against him. 


Over 3.54 lakh voters, including 1.75 lakh women, are eligible to exercise their franchise in the by-election to decide the electoral fate of 14 candidates in the fray. The votes will be counted on June 26.


More than 3,000 security personnel, including Jharkhand Armed Police (JAP), CRPF, and SSB, have been deployed.


The by-election was necessitated after the disqualification of Bandhu Tirkey as an MLA in the wake of his conviction in a corruption case.


Congress has fielded Bandhu’s daughter, Shilpa Neha Tirkey, as the common candidate of the JMM-led alliance, while BJP has nominated former legislator Gangotri Kujur from the seat.


An independent candidate Dev Kumar Dhan, with backing from Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), is also in the fray.

Chief Minister Hemant Soren tweeted, “Voting for Mandar assembly by-election is underway. This is the fourth bypoll the state in 2.5 years. I am sure that the people of Mandar will give priority to public welfare by defeating lies and arrogance in this by-election. The ideology of Jharkhandi and Jharkhandiyat will be further strengthened.”


BJP national vice-president and former chief minister Raghubar Das in a Twitter post said, “There is a by-election to the Mandar assembly seat today. I appeal to all the voters of Mandar to vote against dynastic politics and corruption and help the BJP’s development and good governance win.”

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