12:40 GMT05 December 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): India’s Maoist-infected eastern Jharkand state has gone to the polls to elect a new provincial legislative assembly under tight security.

    On Thursday, 17 assembly constituencies voted in the third phase of elections. According to reports, 58 percent of voters took part with the counting of votes set to take place on 23 December.

    Results of the ongoing polls would be an indicator of the popularity of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief and federal Home Minister Amit Shah, as it comes in the wake of the party's falling popularity among voters.

    After a landslide victory in the April-May elections to Lok Sabha, the lower house of Indian Parliament, the BJP barely managed to return to power in northern Haryana in elections held in October. The party had to partner with a regional party in order to get a working majority.  

    In western Maharashtra, which went to polls along with Haryana, even though the BJP emerged with the highest number of seats, it still failed to form a government with its long-term ally Shiv Sena after the party stuck to its guns over a power-sharing formula. 

    Modi and Shah both engaged in a hectic campaign in Jharkhand to woo voters with their nationalist agenda.

    In the last assembly elections held in 2014, the ruling BJP won 44 seats. The opposition Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Indian National Congress won 16 and six seats respectively, while the rest were won by smaller parties and independents.

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