Over 50 pc voting in Chhattisgarh phase 1

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Raipur, Nov 14 (UNI) Over 50 per cent of the electorate were estimated to have exercised their franchise across 39 assembly constituencies today in the first phase of Chhattisgarh polls thereby sealing the fate of 379 candidates in electronic voting machines (EVMs), state Election Office sources said here.

Polling percentage was about 35 in 12 constituencies of naxalism-affected Bastar division where voting concluded at 1500 hrs. It ended at 1700 hrs in other places.

Sporadic incidents of violence took place in Bastar division where at least three policemen were injured in a landmine blast, four poll officials abducted by Maoists and voting disrupted in about 15 booths due to snatching of EVMs.

The Election Commission of India will announce the official poll percentage after 1800 hrs.

Rajnandgaon, the home district of Chief Minister Raman Singh who is also contesting from there, recorded over 55 per cent voting. Dr Singh and his wife Bina cast their votes at Kailashnagar booth in Kawardha constituency in the final hour of polling.

Senior officials said that people participated in a major way in voting in the insurgency-affected region thus rebuffing a poll boycott call by ultras.

Extremists gunned down Congress worker Trinath Thakur while he was campaigning in Dantewada district's Gadapal village yesterday.

(Eds: Pl pick up suitably from earlier series.) UNI MB AC 1807

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