Ranchi: Whether the Bharatiya Janata Party can emerge victorious in Jharkhand, will be decided today as the counting of votes for 81 Assembly seats, will begin at 8 am and early trends are likely to emerge by 9 am.

The BJP is hoping to retain power in Jharkhand following setbacks and winning fewer seats in both the Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly election, in October this year. The first result is expected at around 1 pm today.

The state which went to polls in five phases from November 30 to December 20, is the third state after Maharashtra and Haryana to go to polls after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The term of the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly will end on January 5 next year and a total of 237 candidates, including 29 women are in the fray. According to the Election Commission, the approximate voter turnout for all 81 seats across all phases of Jharkhand is 65.17 per cent. (For full coverage: https://www.india.com/jharkhand-assembly-election-2019/)

Key parties and candidates

The key parties in the fray include BJP, Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and the All Jharkhand Students Union.

One of the most crucial seats in the elections in Jamshedpur East from where Chief Minister Raghubar Das has been winning since 1995. He is up against ex-cabinet colleague Saryu Rai who turned rebellious after his ticket was put on hold by the party.

The fate of former chief minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Hemant Soren and two state ministers will also be decided as they are among the 237 candidates contesting in this phase. Soren is locked in a direct fight with Louis Marandi in Dumka assembly seat.

Former Chief Minister and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajantarik (JVM-P) President Babulal Marandi is fighting from Dhanwar Assembly seat. AJSU President Sudesh Mahto, who lost the 2014 Assembly poll after a stretch of 15 years, is trying his luck again from Silli seat.

What did Exit Polls predict?

To BJP’s disappointment, the exit polls predicted that the Jharkhand state elections are likely to throw up a hung Assembly. However, either the JVM or AJSU could emerge as king-makers in such a scenario.

As per CVoter-ABP-IANS exit polls, the trends indicate JVM and AJSU can together secure 15 per cent vote share, which is likely to influence post-poll alliance. The same exit poll indicates that the BJP can expect to win between 28 and 36 seats which is less than its 2014 tally of 37 seats. India Today-My Axis meanwhile predicted 22-32 seats for BJP.

However, current Chief Minister Raghubar Das hoped that the exit polls will be proved false and the BJP will again come back to the power in the state. The BJP has aimed to win more than 65 seats by itself with its clarion call of the election ‘Abki bar, 65 par’.

In 2014 elections, the BJP had won 37, All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) 5, JMM 19 and Congress 6. The JVM (P) won 8 seats and Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal could not win even a single seat.

(With inputs from Agencies)