Chhattisgarh records 40 percent polling by noon (Second Lead)

November 20th, 2008 - 2:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, Nov 20 (IANS) Over 40 percent of those eligible to vote Thursday in the second phase of the Chhattisgarh assembly poll had exercised their franchise by noon, officials said here. Polling in the second and final phase was taking place in 51 constituencies.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.

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

Balloting for 39 seats in the first phase concluded Nov 14. The state assembly has 90 seats.

Officials said no serious untoward incident was reported from anywhere Thursday except a case where stones at thrown at Congress leader Ajit Jogi’s convoy in his constituency, Marwahi, in Bilaspur district. Jogi escaped unhurt.

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 reach a polling station in time.

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complained to poll officials that the party workers were distributing “false and mischievous” pamphlets saying he had withdrawn from the contest for the Arang seat in favour of Congress.

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 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.

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. The border of the district with Jharkhand state has been sealed off.

Thursday’s polling will decide the electoral fortunes of 687 candidates, including eight ministers of the BJP and Ajit Jogi, a former chief minister and his spouse, Renu Jogi, a sitting legislator from Kota.

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