Monday, February 26, 2024

Provisional voter turnout of 71 per cent in first phase amid Naxal violence

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RAIPUR, Nov 7 : A provisional turnout of around 71 per cent was recorded in the first phase of Chhattisgarh assembly elections for 20 constituencies on Tuesday, voting for which was held in separate time slots, amid Naxalite violence and the call for boycott, officials said.
Voting for 10 constituencies was held from 7 am to 3 pm in 10 seats and from 8 am to 5 pm in the rest 10 segments under a thick security blanket of police and paramilitary personnel in the Naxalite-hit Bastar division.
Notably, nearly 1 lakh security personnel have been deployed for the first phase of polls.
“A 70.87 per cent voter turnout was recorded till 5 pm in the first phase of the Chhattisgarh elections on Tuesday. However, this figure may go up as the final data from several booths was yet to be received,” a poll official said.
Of the 20 seats for which polling was held on Tuesday, 12 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes.
A total of 223 candidates, including 25 women, were in the fray and as per electoral rolls, 40,78,681 voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in the first phase.
Out of the total 20 constituencies that voted on Tuesday, 17 were won by the Congress and two by the BJP in the 2018 assembly polls. Last time, the Congress had won 68 out of the total 90 seats in the state decimating the saffron party, which was in power that time, to 15.
In the previous assembly polls, a voter turnout of 76.47 per cent was recorded on 18 seats in the first phase. This time, two more constituencies were included in the first phase.
On Tuesday, the political fate of former chief minister and BJP leader Raman Singh, Chhattisgarh Congress chief and MP Deepak Baij, and at least three ministers in the Bhupesh Baghel cabinet was sealed in EVMs.
Incidents of violence were reported from Sukma, Narayanpur, Bijapur and Kanker districts.
Four security personnel were injured in an encounter with Naxalites in the Chintagufa police station area of Sukma district while a CRPF commando sustained injuries in an IED blast near Tondamarka camp in the same district during separate area domination operations to ensure security during the polls, police said.
Exchanges of fire also took place between Naxalites and security personnel –one each in Narayanpur, Bijapur and Kanker districts. However, no harm was reported to security personnel in those incidents, police said.
Residents of 126 villages in the Bastar division rejoiced as polling stations were set up for the first time in their villages since Independence in seven Left Wing Extremist (LWE) affected districts, a statement issued by the poll authority said.
Former Naxalite Sumitra Sahu, who joined the police force in 2018, voted for the first time. She voted in the Narayanpur constituency. (PTI)

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