Moderate to heavy turnout in Chhattisgarh polls (Lead)

November 20th, 2008 - 11:51 am ICT by IANS  

Raipur, Nov 20 (IANS) The final phase of assembly elections in 51 constituencies of the Chhattisgarh assembly saw a large turnout of voters in urban areas Thursday, in contrast to the largely-tribal rural regions, where the polling was moderate. Voting started at 8 a.m. with long queues of voters outside the polling stations in urban constituencies while it began on a sluggish note in the districts dominated by tribals.

Officials said no untoward incident was reported from any of the constituencies going to the polls in the second and final phase. Balloting for 39 seats in the first phase concluded Nov 14. The state assembly has 90 seats.

Election officials said women turned up in large numbers in most polling stations in the urban areas of Raipur district (13 seats), Bilaspur (9) and Janjgir-Champa (6) soon after balloting started. Serpentine queues had formed before the booths opened.

The turnout, however, was moderate in Surguja district’s eight constituencies, Raigarh’s five and Korba’s four and in Koria and Jashpur districts (three each). These districts have sizeable tribal populations.

Though no incident was reported from the forested pockets of Surguja on the Jharkhand border where Maoist rebels had threatened a poll boycott, many voters remained indoors.

Officials said they expected the voting to pick up as the day progressed.

Thursday’s polling will decide the electoral fortunes of 687 candidates, including eight ministers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress leader Ajit Jogi, a former chief minister.

About 8.8 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in 10,314 polling stations.

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