Polling picks up in Madhya Pradesh (Lead)November 27th, 2008 - 12:07 pm ICT by IANS
Bhopal, Nov 27 (IANS) Polling in the 230 assembly constituencies of Madhya Pradesh got off to a sluggish start Thursday but picked up as the day warmed up, as security swarmed the vast state that was on high alert following the terror attack in Mumbai. Polling began at 8 a.m. on a dull note as many voters remained in their homes due to the chilly weather. However, by 9 a.m., long queues were seen outside polling booths in many parts of the state, including the Chambal, Mahakaushal and Malwa regions.
Director General of Police S.K. Raut told IANS: “The state is on alert following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The security forces are prepared to deal with any untoward incident.”
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan cast his vote in Budhni constituency, neighbouring the state capital. State Congress president Suresh Pachouri, opposition leader Jamuna Devi, Public Works Department Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya and Bharatiya Jan Shakti (BJS) party chief Uma Bharati had also cast their votes by 9 a.m. All the leaders had offered prayers at temples before voting.
Police and paramilitary forces have been deployed across the state to maintain tight security. Police officers of the rank of inspector general have been posted in sensitive districts like Betul, Datia, Harda, Tikamgarh, Ratlam and Sidhi.
The election will decide the fate of 3,179 candidates, including 1,374 independents.
The Congress and the ruling BJP are contesting 228 seats each. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded candidates in all 230 constituencies while the Samajwadi Party is contesting 225 seats; the BJS is contesting 215 seats and the Samanata Dal has fielded candidates in only 75 constituencies.