Ranchi, Dec 11: The third phase of Jharkhand Assembly elections on Thursday in 17 constituencies would be crucial for the ruling BJP in the state as three heavyweight candidates are in the fray.
The momentum for the polls in the third phase has gained pace with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressing two rallies in Hazaribagh and Bokaro on December 9.
The campaigning for the third phase of Assembly polls ended on Tuesday evening.
In the third phase, the key candidates include three ministers -- C.P. Singh, Ramchandra Sahis and Neera Yadav, former chief minister Babulal Marandi and former deputy chief minister and All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) president Sudesh Mahto.
Of the 17 seats, the BJP, JMM and Congress had won 10, three and two seats, respectively in the 2014 Assembly polls.
A total of 309 candidates including 32 women candidates are contesting on 17 seats.
The total number of eligible voters in this phase are 56,06,743 which include 29,32,657 male voters, 26,73,991 female and 95 third gender voters.
Seventeen seats are spread across Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Chatra, Giridih, Bokaro, Koderma and Saraikela.
Among these seats, voting will be held on five seats namely Ranchi, Hatia, Kanke, Ramgarh and Barkatha from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. while in the remaining 12 seats, voters will be able to vote between 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Ranchi Assembly seat has been the traditional stronghold of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Yashwant Sinha had won the seat on a BJP ticket in 1995. He resigned from the Assembly after being elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996. C.P. Singh is locked in a direct fight with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) candidate Mahua Majhi.
Former chief minister and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) President Babulal Marandi is contesting from Dhanwar seat and is locked in a triangular fight with sitting CPI-ML Legislator Rajkumar Yadav and BJP candidate and former IPS officer Lakshman Prasad.
Marandi seems to have developed a taste of defeat since 2014 Lok sabha poll.
He had fought the Lok Sabha poll against JMM president Shibu Soren from Dumka and lost the poll. He had fought the Assembly poll from two seats in 2014 and lost both seats. He also lost the 2019 Lok Sabha poll from Koderma seat.
The big question is: Will he win over the faith of the people in the polls?
Another important seat is Silli where AJSU president Sudesh Mahto is locked in a direct fight with JMM candidate and sitting Legislator Seema Devi.
Sudesh Mahto had been winning from the Silli Assembly seat from 2000 to 2014. He lost the 2014 Assembly polls to Amit Mahto of the JMM.
Amit Mahto later lost the membership of the Assembly after he was convicted in a case.
Seema Devi, wife of Amit Mahto, fought the bypoll and defeated Sudesh Mahto.
The seats where elections will be held in the third phase include Koderma, Barkatha, Barhi, Mandu, Hazaribagh, Simaria (SC), Barkagaon, Ramgarh, Dhanwar, Gomia, Berma, Ichagarh, Silli, Khijri (ST), Ranchi, Hatia and Kanke (SC).