Polling ends in Chhattisgarh with impressive turnout

November 20th, 2008 - 6:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, Nov 20 (IANS) The electoral exercise in Chhattisgarh to pick a 90-member State Assembly concluded with the close of the second phase of polling Thursday evening with an impressive turnout of voters. While the final figures were being calculated, more than 40 per cent of the voters had already exercised their franchise by noon that reflected their enthusiasm.

Voting ended in 51 constituencies of the state Thursday without any serious untoward incident barring sporadic skirmishes between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and opposition Congress.

The first phase of polling to elect 39 legislators was held Nov 14. The result will be out Dec 8.

Balloting was briefly affected in former chief minister Ajit Jogi’s constituency Marwahi in Bilaspur district after alleged BJP workers stoned his convoy.

Jogi escaped unhurt but one of the vehicles was damaged. Bilaspur police registered a case against 18 persons.

Election officials said polling stations in the state’s urban areas recorded a huge turnout of voters in contrast to the largely-tribal rural regions, where the polling was moderate.

Officials added that women turned up in large numbers at most polling stations in the urban areas of Raipur district (13 seats), Bilaspur (9) and Janjgir-Champa (6) soon after balloting started at 8 a.m.

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

In Korba district, as many as 56 election officials, including a few presiding officers, were suspended for negligence of duty. District Electoral Officer Ashok Agrawal took the action after they failed to collect election material and did not report to the polling stations.

The police heaved a sigh of relief with peaceful polling in the forested pockets of Surguja on the Jharkhand border where Maoist rebels had threatened a poll boycott. Many voters, however, remained indoors.

Meanwhile, Congress rebel candidate Ganguram Baghel in Raipur district complained to poll officials that the party workers were distributing “false and mischievous” pamphlets saying he had withdrawn from the contest for the Arang seat in favour of Congress.

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

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