Raipur: Voting began in 10 out of 18 Assembly constituencies in the first phase of Chhattisgarh elections on Monday under a tight security blanket comprising over 1.25 lakh police and paramilitary personnel. In the first phase, 190 candidates are in the fray and as per electoral rolls, there are 31,80,014 voters.
Women voters outnumber men for the first phase of polling, with 16,22,492 female voters on the rolls against 15,57,435 men. There are 87 third gender voters as well. As many as 4,336 polling booths have been set up for the first phase and 19,079 polling personnel have been deployed. “Polling in nine constituencies of Bastar division and one in Rajnandgaon district has begun from 7 am and will conclude at 3 pm, while in the rest of the constituencies the polling time is from 8 am to 5 pm,” a poll official said.
Polling time in 10 constituencies — Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur and Konta — is from 7 am to 3 pm, due to the Naxal menace. In the remaining eight constituencies — Khairgarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji, Bastar, Jagdalpur and Chitrakot — it is from 8 am till 5 pm. Among the prominent candidates who will try their electoral luck are Chief Minister Raman Singh, state ministers Kedar Kashyap (Narayanpur) and Mahesh Gagda (Bijpaur), as well as BJPs Kanker Lok Sabha MP Vikram Usendi (Antagarh).
In the first phase, the prestige of nine sitting Congress MLAs -Manoj Singh Mandavi (Bhanupratappur), Mohan Lal Markam (Kondagaon), Lakheshwar Baghel (Bastar), Deepak Kumar Baij (Chitrakot), Devati Karma (Dantewada), Kawasi Lakhma (Konta), Girwar Janghel (Khairagarh), Santram Netam (Keshkal) and Daleshwar Sahu (Dongargaon) is at stake. Of the 18 seats going to polling in the first phase, 12 are reserved for Scheduled Tribe (ST) while one is for Scheduled Caste (SC) category. The second phase of polls will see voting in 72 seats on November 20.