The Times of India

RANCHI: The battle for Ranchi Lok Sabha seat this time is not going to be a face-off between Congress and BJP. In fact, candidates of the two national parties - Subodh Kant Sahay (Congress) and Ram Tahal Choudhary (BJP) - will have to fight some new warhorses who can change the election equation.

Four-time MP from Ranchi who remained undefeated for 13 years since 1991, Choudhary is playing on 'Modi magic' and urging the electorate to choose him as the prime minister of the country.

Sahay, on the other hand, is harping on the sentiment of keeping 'communal forces' at bay. He is, however, abstaining from making tall promises. This is because his failure to do anything substantial for his constituency as a Union minister has earned him the wrath of voters.

The change makers in fray this time are Ajsu Party chief Sudesh Mahto, JSCA president Amitabh Chaudhary of JVM(P), Mandar MLA Bandhu Tirkey of Trinamool Congress and Amanullah of Aam Aadmi Party.

While Mahto has been a popular youth leader in different parts of the state, his movement for special status to Jharkhand has garnered popular support.

Issues like increasing employment opportunity and making Ranchi a world class capital city with proper amenities has appealed the masses. "We are regional parties and we think about the locality first, National parties have failed the people of Jharkhand and we are going to support government at centre only when they concede to fulfil aspirations of our electorate," Mahto said.

The JSCA president and JVM(P) candidate is also popular among youth for his relentless efforts towards promoting sports in the state. While he bags the credit for successfully organizing the 34th National Games as the sports director, he came to the limelight after completing construction of International Cricket Stadium in Ranchi in record time and giving the city chance to host ODIs and IPL matches.

People in Ranchi also remember him as a prudent IPS officer who served as Senior SP and had controlled crime rate substantially in the mid 1990s.

With an electorate population of 16,47,038 and comprising seven assembly segments Ranchi PC has a diverse representation in the assembly.

While Hatia and Silli segments are represented by Ajsu party candidates Naveen jaiswal and Sudesh Mahto, Kanke and Ranchi segments are represented by BJP's Ram Chandra Baitha and CP Singh. Ichagarh, Mandar and Khijri segments are represented respectively by Arwind Singh of JVM (P), Bandhu Tirkey (now of TMC) and Sawna Lakra of Congress.

Given the intense campaign taken up by election commission and revision of electoral rolls the voters turnout is expected to increase thereby bringing out unexpected results.

"We find that the an increase of five percent in the voters turnout can affect the final outcome in addition to various other factors responsible for victory or defeat of any candidate," said analyst with National Election Watch.

Expressing similar views, Sudhir Pal of Jharkhand Election Watch said the level of awareness among urban voters has increased and chances of issue based voting has increased in the urban pockets.

A section of the electorate is not happy with the national issues being raised by major political parties and wants something concrete for Ranchi to be done.

"We want the capital city to have proper roads, uninterrupted power supply and standard healthcare facilities (and are) not bothered about who makes the government," said Vipin Jaiswal, a Ranchi-based trader.

However, the inteligentia seems to be more concerned about the kind of government being formed at centre. Administrative officer with the state government Malay Kumar said that prosperity of the country depends on its self-esteem.

"We need a government which is strong in dealing with corruption and cross border terrorism, for parliamentary election, people should not be swayed by local issues," he said.

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