Peaceful polling in Chattisgarh

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Raipur, Nov 20: An estimated 20 per of the electorate had voted till 1100 hrs on Thursday, Nov 20 during the second and final phase of polling in 51 Assembly constituencies of Chhattigarh. State election office here said polling was progressing peacefully and there was no report of any untoward incident from anywhere.

''Voting was underway in a smooth manner and around 20 per cent of the electorate have exercised their franchise till 1100 hrs,'' sources said.

Former chief minister and Congress candidate from Marwahi Ajit Jogi cast his vote at Saajbehra polling booth in Kota Assembly segement, from where his wife Renu is seeking re-election.

In Marwahi, there was some confusion when the voters reached the booths at 0700 hrs even as poll timing was from 0800 hrs to 1700 hrs.

Official reports reaching here said there was a big turnout of voters in majority of the 51 constituencies and the vote percentage might surpass the 70 per cent voting recorded in the first phase of elections in 39 seats on November 14.

However, the Election Commission taking a stern action has suspended sector magistrate Ajay Mishra in Surajpur area of Premnagar assembly segment in Sarguja district for dereliction of duty. Similary 20 polling personnel were also suspended in Korba for poll irregularities.

According to a report from Raigarh, voters of 5 polling booths in Bayasi under Dharamjaygarh segment, were boycotting the polls to protest against non-development of the area.

Reports of malfunctioning of the Electronic Voting Machines(EVMs) in several booths were also recieved by the Commission but they were immediately rectified.

Meanwhile, a large voters turnout was seen in all the four segments of Raipur city since the start of the polling. Long queues were witnessed in all the urban booths particularly of the women voters.

Over 8.8 million voters are expected to exercise their franchise in 12,073 booths spread over eight districts of the state's northern part. There are 687 candidates, including 50 women, in the fray.

Prominent nominees include Congress star campaigner and former chief minister Ajit Jogi (Marwahi), his wife Renu (Kota), Congress leader Nand Kumar Patel (Kharsia), Congress state President Dhanendra Sahu (Abhanpur), state ministers and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates Ramvichar Netam (Ramanujganj), Brijmohan Agrawal (Raipur South), Amar Agrawal (Bilaspur City), Deputy Speaker Badridhar Diwan (Beltara) and Nationalist Congress Party state President Novel Verma (Chandrapur).

Polling in the naxalite infested Sarguja district was also peaceful amid strong presence of security personnel on the Jharkhand-UP border. About 100 companies of security men were deployed in the region while two helicopters have been kept in reserve to counter any major incident. The inter-state borders have already been sealed for the last 48 hours and patrolling have been intensified. The central forces had also conducted flag marches in the sensitive areas to instil confidence among the voters.

Yesterday, a major incident was averted when naxalites tiggered an explosion under Ramchandrapur police station in Sarguja district on the Jharkhand - Chhattisgarh border in which a bullet proof vehicle of a police official was damaged.

No one received serious injury in the incident but the polling team which was just behind the police vehicle surived a major attack.

According to police officials here no untoward incident was reported so far from anywhere in the naxalite belt in northern part of the state where polling is being held on Thursday, Nov 20.

UNI

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