Chhattisgarh records 71 pc voting in first phase

Raipur, Nov 7 (UNI) An estimated 71 percent turnout was recorded in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday during the largely-peaceful maiden phase of Assembly poll, covering 20 constituencies, including ten in areas severely affected by Left-wing extremism.

A CRPF officer was injured when an IED exploded within the restive Sukma district of Bastar division.

Amid heavy security bandobast, voting concluded at 1500 hrs in the 10 Naxalism-hit zones and at 1700 hrs in the remaining ten constituencies. The state has a 90-member Assembly.

Official sources provided the polling break-up as Kanker 75.51 percent, Bastar 72.41, Bijapur 40.98, Mohla-Manpur 76, Sukma 50.12, Kondagaon 75.35, Dantewada 62.55, Narayanpur 63.88, Rajnandgaon 75.10, Kabirdham 72 and Khairagarh 76.31 percent. Final figures are likely to be higher as queues were observed on some premises even after expiration of the deadline.

Confirming the Maoist incident, SP Kiran Chauhan said, “A detachment of the CRPF’s 206th Commando Battalion for Resolute Action had left Camp Tondamarka and was heading for Elmagunda village to execute an area domination exercise. Inspector Shrikant stepped on the landmine. He has been hospitalised.”

The ultras had issued a poll boycott call.

The timings for exercise of franchise was 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Mohla-Manpur (9 candidates), Antagarh (13), Bhanupratappur (14), Kanker (9), Keshkal (10), Kondagaon (8), Narayanpur (9), Dantewada (7), Bijapur (8) and Konta (8); whereas it is 8 a.m.-5 p.m. in Pandariya (14), Kawardha (16), Khairagarh (11), Dongargarh (10), Rajnandgaon (29), Dongargaon (12), Khujji (10), Bastar (8), Jagdalpur (11) and Chitrakote (7).

Of the total 5,304 polling centres, webcasting facilities were made available at 2,431. Twenty places were managed entirely by differently-able staff.

The fortunes of 223 nominees, including 25 females, were sealed in EVMs by members of a 40,78,681-strong electorate that includes 20,84,675 women.

Prominent among the contestants are erstwhile chief minister Raman Singh – from Rajnandgaon – Ministers Mohammad Akbar, Kawasi Lakhma and Mohan Markam.

The ruling Congress and the principal-opposition BJP are in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation in all 20 constituencies, 19 of which are held by the Congress.

Counting is scheduled for December 3.

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