(Eds: Updates turnout) Dumka/Bokaro (Jharkhand), Nov 3 (PTI) Around 46.47 per cent of total 5.63 lakh voters cast their ballots till 1 pm in by-elections to two assembly seats in Jharkhand on Tuesday amidst tight security and strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocol, election officials said.
Dumka seat reported 46.96 per cent turnout, while 46.07 per cent of voters cast their ballots in Bermo constituency of Bokaro district, they said.
Polling began at 7 am and no untoward incident has been reported so far, they said.
Electors were seen standing in queues in polling booths by maintaining social distancing. They were given masks, sanitiser and gloves, the officials said.
The fates of 12 candidates in Dumka and 16 in Bermo will be sealed in the EVMs by 5 pm.
Elaborate security arrangements are in place for the peaceful conduct of elections in both seats that fall in Naxal-hit areas, officials said.
A total of 2,50,720 people are eligible to cast their votes in 368 polling booths in Dumka, district Election Officer cum Deputy Commissioner Rajeshwari B said.
The electoral contest in Dumka is expected to be between Chief Minister Hemant Soren's younger brother Basant Soren of the JMM and former cabinet minister Lois Marandi of the BJP.
By-election to the constituency was necessitated after the chief minister vacated the seat and retained his other Barhait seat. He had defeated Marandi in Dumka in last year's assembly elections.
The fight in Bermo is also likely to be a direct contest between Jaimangal alias Anup Singh of the Congress, the son of sitting MLA Rajendra Prasad Singh whose death necessitated the by-election, and Yogeshwar Mahato of the BJP.
Singh cast his vote at Phusrodhori polling booth, while Mahato's name is in the electoral list of Bokaro assembly seat.
A total of 3,12,507 people are eligible to cast their votes in 468 booths in Bermo, Bokaro district Election Officer cum Deputy Commissioner Rajesh Kumar Singh said.
The counting of votes will take place on November 10.
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