Voting begins to decide Munda's fate in Jharkhand

Polling began at 7 a.m. and will end at 3 p.m. Long queues were seen at the polling booths. Around 12 companies of state and paramilitary forces have been deployed. Helicopters are also being used for surveillance.

Seven candidates are in the fray and their fate is to be decided by 1.54 lakh voters. The vote count will take place Feb 17. The main contest is between Arjun Munda and Krishna Gagarai of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P), who is the common opposition candidate.

Gagarai is supported by the Congress and former mentors of Munda like Shailendra Mahto, Suraj Singh Besra and others. Munda needs to win the election and become a member of the state assembly to fulfil a constitutional necessity as the six-month period since his swearing-in as chief minister in September is about to end.  

Munda won from Kharsawa in 1995 on Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) ticket. He joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) just before the 2000 assembly elections. He again won the seat in 2000 and 2005 on BJP ticket. In 2009, BJP's Mangal Singh Soy won the seat. He resigned last year to facilitate Munda to get elected to the assembly.

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