18 constituencies to go on polls in the first phase of elections here. Maoists has demanded a boycott of the polls and asked everyone not to vote.
143 candidates are in the fray in the first phase polls. This is the only state where the assembly election polls have been divided into two phases.
Raman Singh-led BJP government is aiming for a hattrick against the Congress. The chief minister and his three ministers, besides kin of the victims of Jiram valley naxal attack are among the candidates whose fate will be decided in today's voting in 18 assembly constituencies in the worst Naxal-hit regions of Bastar and Rajnandgaon.
A total of 143 candidates are contesting from 12 constituencies in Bastar division and six constituencies of Rajnandgaon district with an electorate of 29,33,200 in the first of the two-phase polls to the 90-member assembly in the state.
"The polling in 12 constituencies of Bastar and one of Rajnandgaon district has begun from 7 am and will conclude at 3 pm while in the rest of the constituencies in Rajnandgaon, the polling time is from 8 am to 5 pm," a official with the of office of Chief Electoral Officer told PTI.
A large number of security force personnel have been deployed across the state to ensure peaceful polling. The polling parties had left to their destination on Sunday, the official said. Chief Minister Raman Singh is contesting from Rajnandgaon constituency. His main rival is Congress' Alka Mudliyar, wife of slain Congress leader Uday Mudliyar.
Devati Karma, wife of Mahendra Karma, has been fielded from Dantewada-ST seat.
Tribal welfare Minister Kedar Kashyap had won the Narayanpur segment in 2008 poll against Congress candidate Rajnuram Netam by a huge margin of 21, 635 votes and this time the main opposition has fielded a low profile party worker Chandan Kashyap from this seat against him.
Sports minister Lata Usendi had previously defeated Congressman Mohan Markam from Kondagon seat in a close contest by 2771 votes.
Rajnandgaon district polling is from 7 am till 3 pm
Markam has been provided a second chance from this seat. Forest Minister Vikram Usendi has been fielded from Antagarh seat which he had won against former Congress MLA Manturam Pawar in last elections with the margin of mere 109 votes.
The sole sitting MLA of Congress in Bastar, Kawasi Lakhma has been renominated from Konta seat.
Police security has been beefed up in the polling areas due to the IED blast that took place late Sunday afternoon in Aundhi village of poll bound Chhattisgarh. One Jawan was injured in the tragedy.
With PTI inputs