Tight security for 2nd phase poll in Chhattisgarh

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Raipur, Nov 19 (UNI) Elaborate security arrangements have been made for free and fair polling in tomorrow's second and last phase of Assembly elections in 51 constituencies of Chhattisgarh.

Over 8.8 million voters will choose their representatives for 51 seats spread out in 8 districts of northern parts of the state at 12,073 polling booths. There are 687 candidates, including 50 females, in the fray.

Prominent candidates whose fate would be decided in the second phase of polling tomorrow includes former Chief Minister and star Congress campaigner Ajit Jogi (Marwahi), his wife Renu Jogi (Kota), senior Congress leader Nand Kumar Patel (Kharsia), state Congress President Dhanendra Sahu (Abhanpur), state ministers and ruling BJP candidates Ramvichar Netam (Ramanujganj), Braj Mohan Agarwal (Raipur-south), Amar Agarwal (Bilaspur city), Deputy Speaker Badridhar Diwan (Beltara) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state president Novel Verma (Chandrapur).

State chief electoral officer(CEO) Alok Shukla told UNI here today that all arrangements for smooth conduct of the polling has been completed and the polling teams have started moving to their respective booths.

He said adequate security arrangements have been made and central para military forces have been deployed at all the sensitive booths and pockets where polling will be held between 0800 hrs to 1700 hrs tomorrow.

More than 300 companies of central forces and state police forces have been deployed in the second phase of polling. Though there is no such threat of naxal violence in the second phase but still the inter-state border with Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa have been sealed off since last evening.

A senior police official said that patrolling has been intensified in all the bordering areas while two helicopters have been kept in reserve at Sarguja for aerial survey by the central observers during the polling.

Altogether 2608 booths in the second phase have been identified as sensitive while 355 polling stations would have additional security as they were hyper sensitive.

Bhatgaon Assembly segment in Sarguja district has the highest number of 29 candidates, while Pathalgaon in Jashpur district has the minimum of seven candidates.

Of the total candidates 42 are crorepatis, while criminal cases are pending against 53 candidates.

The campaigning for the last phase ended last evening and during the electioneering both the Congress and the BJP had left no stone unturned and engaged their leaders and star campaigners in electioneering to woo the voters.

No major issue was taken up during the electioneering but the BJP highlighted achievements of Dr Raman Singh Government including distributing rice at Rs 3 per kg and accelerating the pace of development.

On the other hand, the Congress raked up the issue of corruption and misuse of central funds during the five-year-rule of the BJP.

The Congress assured people that it was the only party that could provide clean and development-oriented government in tribal-dominated state.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who did not take part during campaign for the first phase, however, addressed a public meeting at Kharsia in Raigarh district on the last day.

BJP Prime Ministerial nominee Lal Krishna Advani also addressed several election meetings yesterday till 1700 hrs.

The first phase of polling in 39 constituencies of 10 districts in southern part of the state was held on November 14 during which over 70 per cent electorate exercised their franchise.

Counting of votes for all 90 seats would be held on December 8.

UNI MB SP 1102

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