Around 65 per cent voter turnout was on Thursday recorded in three Naxal-hit Lok Sabha constituencies of Chhattisgarh, where Maoists targeted a polling party but there was no casualty.
Barring the one Naxal-related incident, polling was by and large peaceful in the state, which completed the second phase of voting that decided the fate of Congress leader Ajit Jogi and CM Raman Singh’s son Abhishek (BJP), among others.
Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Kujur said, “Around 65 per cent of the total electorate exercised their franchise in three Lok Sabha seats – Kanker, Rajnandgaon and Mahasamund – where the polling was peaceful.”
The extremists triggered a landmine blast in Kanker district to target a polling party returning after conducting voting, escorted by security personnel. However, no causalities were reported, Kujur said.
The highest turnout was recorded in Dhamtari and Rajnandgaon districts (68 pc) followed by Balod (67 pc), Kondagaon (66 pc), Kanker (65 pc), Gariyaband (62 pc) and Kabirdham (58 pc), spread over the three constituencies.
As many as 6,114 booths — 2,211 in Rajnandgaon, 1,937 in Mahasamund and 1,781 in Kanker — were set up and they were manned by 29,347 government staff. A total of 2,452 the booths were declared critical, Kujur said.
The landmine blast took place in Purvi region of Bhanupratappur Assembly seat under Kanker Lok Sabha seat. The polling staff was safely evacuated from the area, he said.
The fate of 50 candidates, including five women, was locked in the EVMs. The maximum candidates in fray were in Mahasamund (27), followed by Rajnandgaon (13) and Kanker (10).
Polling was also held in Polampalli booth in Sukma district under Bastar Lok Sabha seat where voting could not be held in the first phase on April 10 due to Naxal disturbance and technical difficulties in EVMs, Kujur said. Nine per cent voting was recorded in Polampalli.
In Rajnandgaon, Abhishek Singh is pitted against Congress Janpad member Kamleshwar Verma, while Jogi is locked in a fight with BJP sitting MP Chandulal Sahu in Mahasamund.
In Kanker, BJP denied ticket to sitting MP Sohan Potai and instead fielded MLA and former minister Vikram Usendi. Phoolo Devi Netam is the Congress nominee from the seat. Maoist-hit Bastar Lok Sabha seat went to polls on April 10 in which 52 per cent voting was recorded. The state has 11 Lok Sabha seats. The rest of the seven seats – Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur, Surguja, Raigarh, Korba, Janjgir-Champa will vote in the third and last phase on April 24.