Chhattisgarh on Monday went to the polls amid tight security after a spate of Maoist attacks. The first phase of voting was held in 18 seats across eight districts, including in multiple suspected Maoist hotbeds. Eight of these 18 seats are currently held by the Congress, which is hoping for a comeback after a 15-year Bharatiya Janata Party rule. More than 1.25 lakh security personnel have been deployed across the state.
Here are the day’s updates:
7.48 pm: Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat says the enthusiasm among voters was appreciable, reports ANI. “Polling was peaceful,” he says. “In comparison to earlier elections, this elections have been singular achievement of the people working in fields.”
7.40 pm: At least two suspected Maoists killed in encounter with District Reserve Guard in Sukma district in Bastar division, reports Hindustan Times. “Encounter took place at 5.30 pm when DRG security parties were coming back from Chitolnar who were giving cover to polling parties,” says Special Director General (Naxal operations) DM Awasthi.
7.29 pm: Deputy Election Commissioner Sundeep Jain says only 1% electronic voting machines and 1.9% voter verification paper audit trail machines were changed, reports ANI.
6.19 pm: Umesh Sinha, senior deputy election commissioner, said the poll panel recorded a 70% voter turnout, ANI reports. Sinha said details of voter turnouts in each constituency will be released later.
5.30 pm: Polling in the first phase of the election ends, ANI reports.
4. 30 pm: 56.58% overall voter turnout recorded till 4.30 pm, ANI reports. The poll panel recorded 61.47% voter turn out in Kondagaon, 63.51% in Keshkal; 62% in Kanker, 58% in Bastar, 49% in Dantewada, 60.5% in Khairagarh, 64% in Dongargarh, and 65.5% in Khujji.
4.19 pm: At least five suspected Maoists killed in gunfight with security forces in Bijapur’s Pamed area, ANI reports. Three more COBRA jawans injured in the encounter.
4.10 pm: Security forces deactivate improvised explosive device detected on a road leading to Dwarapara polling booth in Bijapur district, reports ANI.
3.49 pm: “BJP has completely lost the plot in Chhattisgarh and its desperation and desolation is more than evident with reports of rigging of EVMs pouring in from Bastar,” IANS quotes Congress Legislative Party leader TS Singh Deo as saying.
3.45 pm: 47% voter turnout recorded till 3 pm, ANI reports.
1.25 pm: Election Commission says certain sources are spreading rumours that electronic voting machines are malfunctioning repeatedly, reports ANI. Voting is going on smoothly, the the poll panel adds.
But as many as 31 EVMs and 51 Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail machines have been replaced, the poll body says.
1.14 pm: Voter turnout of 25.15% recorded till 1 pm, reports ANI.
1.13 pm: Two COBRA jawans injured in a gunfight with suspected Maoists in Bijapur’s Pamed area, reports ANI. The gunfight started around 12.20 pm.
11.35 am: Chief Minister Raman Singh urges “youths, women and senior citizens” to cast their votes.
11.33 am: The voter turnout till 11.10 am was 12.32%, reports News18.
10.40 am: Three improvised explosive devices have been detected near a polling booth in Banda in Konta, ANI reports. A bomb disposal squad of the Central Reserve Police Force is at the site.
Polling, meanwhile, continues at a makeshift booth under a tree.
10.26 am: A voter turnout of 10.7% is recorded till 10 am, according to ANI.
10.15 am: While nearly 900 polling personnel have been air-dropped from helicopters to enable them to safely reach their destination, more than 16,500 travelled by road, Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat tells ANI. “I think all will be in a position to deliver peaceful elections,” he says.
10 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi urges people to come out and vote in large numbers in “the festival of democracy”.
8 am: Voting starts in five constituencies of Rajnandgaon and three constituencies of Bastar, ANI reports.
7.40 am: Hours before voting, the Congress’ state vice-president Ghanaram Sahu quit the party, becoming the second senior leader to leave the party before the polls, the Hindustan Times reported.
7.30 am: A blast was reported in Katekalyan block of Dantewada around 5.30 am before voting began, says PTI. The explosion took place on the Tumakpal-Nayanar road when a team of security men was escorting polling personnel to their booth. An unidentified police official said that Maoists, who had called for a boycott of the polls, detonated the device. No casualties were reported.
7.15 am: Voting begins in 10 of the 18 seats in the state. An unidentified election official said voting in these 10 constituencies – Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur and Konta – will conclude at 3 pm.
In the other eight constituencies – Khairgarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji, Bastar, Jagdalpur and Chitrakot – polling will begin at 8 am and will end at 5 pm.
7 am: Eight seats voting today are currently held by the Congress, which is hoping for a comeback after a 15-year Bharatiya Janata Party rule. Former Congress Chief Minister Ajit Jogi is contesting under his own party this year, the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh, along with Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati.
Voting is on a day after a Border Security Force officer was killed in a suspected Maoist attack in Kanker district. On November 8, a Central Industrial Security Force and four civilians were killed in a suspected Maoist attack on a bus, and a Doordarshan video journalist and three policemen were killed in an earlier attack as well.
The second phase of elections will be held on November 20, and the results will be announced on December 11. Besides Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Mizoram, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh will go to the polls over the next month.