Bhopal: Amid heavy security arrangements and threats from Naxalites, the first phase of the two-phase Chhattisgarh assembly election has witnessed a considerable turnout of voters, on Monday. Poll officials have confirmed that 70 per cent voters have turned out to cast their votes in 18 constituencies that went to the poll.
According to the officials, 190 candidates were fighting the election from different constituencies. Around 19,079 polling personnel were present at 4,336 polling booths. 31 electronic voting machines (EVMs) and 51 voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines had developed technical errors and had to replaced.
From the Congress, incumbent MLAs Manoj Singh Mandavi (Bhanupratappur), Mohan Lal Markam (Kondagaon), Lakheshwar Baghel (Bastar), Deepak Kumar Baij (Chitrakot), Devati Karma (Dantewada), Kawasi Lakhma (Konta), Girwar Janghel (Khairagarh), Santram Netam (Keshkal) and Daleshwar Sahu (Dongargaon) are in the race in Phase 1. From the ruling BJP, chief minister Raman Singh (Rajnandgaon), state ministers Kedar Kashyap (Narayanpur) and Mahesh Gagda (Bijapur), and BJP Kanker Lok Sabha MP Vikram Usendi (Antagarh) are the candidates.
Around 1.25 lakh paramilitary personnel and police were deployed in the Naxalite-affected regions of Bastar, Kanker, Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur, Kondagaon and Rajnandgaon districts where first phase of polling was carried out.
Polling was held in places like Palam Adgu village in Sukma district after 15 years where 44 voters were able to cast their votes. While commenting on the successful voting in Bhejji 2, Gorkha and Mukram polling booths where zero turnout was recorded in 2013 polls, Sukma’s superintendent of police Abhishek Meena said people from interior parts of the district have been able to vote despite Naxalites’ appeal for boycott.
However, a gunbattle between security personnel and Naxalites in Pamed area in Bijapur district was reported where five CRPF personnel were injured. In another incidence, an improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated in Dantewada district by Naxalites a little before polling started.
Polling for the second phase 72 seats is scheduled to be held on November 20.