An impressive 74.65 per cent of voters cast their ballots in the second and final round of polling in Chhattisgarh Tuesday as buoyant youths and women thronged booths across the state.
The voting was marred by some violence as a man was killed and two injured in accidental firing by a CRPF jawan at a booth while Raipur South,the constituency of PWD Minister Brijmohan Agarwal,saw fresh controversy linked to the contest.
Ahead of the elections,the constituency was at the centre of controversies over 24 independent Muslim candidates contesting from there and rail tickets being sponsored for Muslim voters to visit Ajmer,allegedly to cut into Congress votes.
On Tuesday,Agarwal alleged that as many as 20,000 upper caste Hindu voters were not allowed to vote as their names were not in the voters list.
Agarwal claimed these were his voters who had the voter card issued by the Election Commission but found their names missing when they reached the booths. He alleged that the commission had been managed and demanded the removal of the EC observer for the seat.
The EC in connivance with the Congress has deliberately removed the names from the booths where I had gained in 2008, Agarwal told The Indian Express. The Election Commission is acting as a Congress parrot in Chhattisgarh. Instead of operating as an umpire,it became a player and hatched a conspiracy to defeat me.
However,he did not demand either a re-poll in the entire constituency or even in these booths. Only those persons,whose names were deleted,should be allowed to re-cast their votes, he said.
He claimed to have details of some 7,000 of these voters and added that a comprehensive list was being prepared.
We are examining the complaint,but unless it is authenticated nothing can be said at this juncture, Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Kujur said.
Authorities said a man was killed and two injured in CRPF firing at a booth in Saja constituency. Voters had a scuffle with CRPF. A jawan accidentally fired leading to the death of a person, Kujur added. In another incident,a presiding officer was arrested in Bhatgaon constituency of Surajpur district after he was found drunk on duty.
Residents of Kamreed and Bavnipali villages of Sarangarh constituency boycotted the election saying the government had neglected the village and did not undertake any development project. Kujur said not a single vote was cast here through the day.
In Raipur,the collector ordered the registration of an FIR against BJP minister and Raipur West candidate Rajesh Moonat for allegedly threatening EC observer Subodh Yadav. The altercation is said to have taken place when the observer was monitoring a booth.
Polling was otherwise peaceful and substantial and the estimated figure of 74.65 per cent was higher than the 71.09 per cent polling in 2008. The first phase of polling for 18 seats in the Maoist-infested areas of the state had also recorded a good turnout of 70.11 per cent.
While Dhamtari (84.33) and Balod (84) districts recorded the highest turnout,Durg registered the least with 67.83 per cent. Tuesdays vote for 72 seats in 19 districts is crucial for the BJP government as a lead here will ensure Chief Minister Raman Singh returns to power for a third straight term.