Polling is underway for the bye-election in Mandar assembly constituency in Ranchi district amid tight security.
Voting would be held in 433 polling booths from 7 am to 4 pm.
The Congress has fielded Shilpi Neha Tirkey, daughter of Bandhu Tirkey, while the BJP has pitted former MLA Gangotri Kujur against her. BJP rebel candidate Deo Kumar Dhan is contesting the election as an independent candidate supported by All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).
The bypoll is also a litmus test for both the ruling alliance Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the BJP. If Congress wins the bypoll it will be a victory for the ruling coalition to win all the by-poll elections after the Hemant Soren government came to power in 2019. However, if BJP wins the election it will give a boost to BJP as it is trying to set a referendum that people are unhappy with the ruling alliance government.
It was Bandhu Tirkey who had won the seat in 2019 but was disqualified following his conviction in a disproportionate assets case, necessitating the bypoll.
Meanwhile, the district administration has put in place a three-tier security layer around the polling booths for fair and violence-free voting.
Mandar used to be a Naxal hotbed a few years back. Hyper-sensitive booths would be manned by the CRPF and SSB, said officials.
The seat is a tribal reserved seat with a tribal population of around 1.75 lakh.
In the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly, the ruling UPA has 48 MLAs - JMM 30, Congress 17 and RJD one. The NDA has 28 MLAs with BJP having 26 and AJSU two. (ANI)