Giridih, where voting in Naxal areas can decide the fate of the candidates

No national party is in the fray for Giridih, which has been known as a Naxal hotbed for a long time. BJP left their traditional seat for its alliance partner All Jharkhand Student Union (AJSU) to lock horns with Jharkhand Mukhti Morcha (JMM), which is being backed by the Mahagathbandhan

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Giridih/Ranchi: Giridih has several issues—right from water scarcity to poor power supply, to rampant air pollution to large scale migration. But, all these issues have been put into the back burner, and the only issue that matters now is local and outsider.

With the infighting among the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s leaders reaching the public domain to grab ticket in place of incumbent Member of Parliament Ravindra Pandey who got leveled as non-performer, forced the BJP to leave its traditional seat for its alliance partner All Jharkhand Student Union (AJSU). Pandey has represented Giridih five times in parliament.

AJSU has fielded Chandra Prakash Choudhary who is also a minister in Raghubar Das cabinet.

Jharkhand Mukhti Morcha (JMM) has pitted its runner-up candidate Jagarnath Mahto against Choudhary. This time the JMM candidate also has the backing of Mahagathbandhan.

As none of the major national parties, be it BJP or Congress contesting from Giridih seat, and the fight is going to be between the regional parties here.

However, during the campaigning period, neither of the regional parties could raise local issues properly.

Choudhary’s portfolio is that of a Water Resource Minister and Giridih is facing acute water crisis but baring one or two speeches, opposition did not make it an election issue during the campaign.

The power cuts are so frequent that on several occasion, the common man doesn’t even get the time to charge batteries and inverters. The frequent power cuts happen to be one of the main reasons for the irregular water supply too.

There is a high level of air pollution in the township area, but it also could not become an election issue. There are a dozen sponge iron factories which are operational in Mohanpur-Chatro area and is making life hell for the residents in the neighbouring areas.

And most importantly, a large number of youths migrate in large scale for jobs and in this pursuit, many get duped. Some meet accidents, while a large number of migrant workers even get stranded on foreign shores. Only silver lining for them is a Jharkhand-based WhatsApp group work as towards availing help for migrant workers in distress.

With so many issues demanding attention, the only issue that matters for parties is who is local and outsider.

Like Kanhaiya Kumar’s campaign in Begusarai, JMM candidate Jagarnath Mahto claims he is ‘Son of Giridih’ so he deserves the votes of the residents of Giridih. Mahto is the MLA from Dumri and a native of Dumri too. Choudhary, the Ramgarh MLA is an outsider in the fight.

However, the most important factor that really counts is the voting in Naxal infested areas, like Pirtand, Topchachi, Nawadih, Dumri and in some parts of Tundi. If these areas, voters turn out in good number, then their votes can play a vital role in deciding the winner for the election.

There was a time, when Maoists used to chop fingers who used to cast first vote, but now such incidents have have become a thing of past. The vote boycott calls have either been reduced or no takers.

In 2009, there were several booths in Pirtand- Dumri areas where zero votings took place but in 2014, votes were polled in both Lok Sabha election and assembly polls. Administration also believe that the regions, which were earlier considered naxal infested areas, the voting percentage is likely to improve.

“Administration has put it as a special case and is ensuring tight security for these reasons. Polling personnel and security forces have been sent to these areas via helicopters. It is being believed that this time voting percentage will increase in all the Naxal infested areas which fall under Giridih Lok Sabha constituency,” said Kamalnayan Chaparia, a senior journalist, who has done several stories on the administration work in Naxal areas, told to eNewsroom.

So far in Naxal areas, voting takes place in bulk either in favour or against a leader or some political party, so whoever gets ‘lucky’ may also emerge as the winner too.

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