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Over 10 mn vote as polls end in Chhattisgarh

By:  Tupaki Desk   |   19 Nov 2013 2:47 PM GMT
More than 10 million votes were cast Tuesday in the second and final phase of elections for the 90-member Chhattisgarh assembly, in a peaceful exercise that was marred only by the death of one man in a trooper's gun fire.

Voting was held Tuesday in the second and final phase for 72 constituencies. The first phase Nov 11 saw voting for 18 seats, a majority located in Maoists' stronghold.

Barring the death of a person in a trooper's gun fire at a polling booth, ballotting was largely peaceful in Chhattisgarh that has been governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party for a decade.

Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Kujur said the tentative voter turnout was 74.70 percent.

The principal battle in the mineral-rich state is between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has governed the state since 2003, and the Congress which ruled it the first three years since the state was carved out from Madhya Pradesh in 2000.

In the keenly contested elections this year, the Congress could stage a comeback or the BJP could also score a hat-trick, poll watchers say.

Turnout was brisk since morning and by noon about 30 percent voting was recorded.

Over 13.9 million voters, including 6.83 million women, were eligible to exercise their franchise at 18,015 polling stations to decide the fate of 843 candidates, 75 women included.

There was heavy polling in a few assembly constituenices, including Marwahi. Congress leader Ajit Jogi's son Amit Jogi is contesting from Marwahi that recorded in excess of 40 percent voting by noon.

The state saw minor clashes between ruling Bharatiya Janata Party cadres and the Congress workers in Durg City as well as in Bilaspur constituencies.

One person was killed and another injured Tuesday at a polling booth in Saja constituency when a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trooper opened fire at a group of people following an argument.

Director General of Police Ramniwas said two-three people, who were reportedly drunk, came to a polling booth at village Bhindarwani and had some heated arguments with policemen deployed there for ensuring free and fair voting.

"One person was killed on the spot while another was injured when a CRPF jawan opened fire at locals who, as per initial reports, wanted to disrupt the polling," Ramniwas told reporters in state capital Raipur.

He added that a magisterial inquiry has been ordered.

The second phase polling for 72 seats, of which 17 were reserved for the Scheduled Tribes and nine for the Scheduled Castes, was spread out in 19 districts.

Voting was held up at Bhindarwani booth for about 20 minutes after the CRPF trooper's firing but later resumed. Saja has been a known Congress bastion for about two decades where Leader of Opposition in Chhattisgarh assembly Ravindra Choubey is contesting.

Voters queued up at pollling booths in urban as well as rural areas much before the start of voting.

About 3,000 CCTV cameras were installed at booths to ensure free and fair polling.

The Saraipali seat in Mahasamund district saw just five contestants, which is the lowest figure among all 72 seats that went to poll Tuesday. The maximum number of 38 candidates were in fray from Raipur South in Raipur district from where BJP heavyweight and PWD Minister Brijmohan Agrawal sought his sixth consecutive victory.