Raipur :  Over 67 per cent polling was witnessed in the first phase of Chhattisgarh assembly elections in eight Maoist-hit districts on Monday, which witnessed sporadic incidents of violence that left a CRPF jawan dead.

Amid unprecedented security arrangements, gun battles erupted at 14 places with Maoists, who had called for a boycott of elections, attacking poll parties and security personnel while a total of 78 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were recovered in 18 constituencies lying in the Naxal hotbeds of Bastar and Rajnandgaon in the last three days.

“Till 5 pm, 67 per cent polling was recorded and the figure may go up as queues were witnessed at a few places in five assembly constituencies where polling ended at 5 pm. The final figure will be available after polling parties return,”

Chhattisgarh Chief Electoral officer Sunil Kumar Kajur said.

Of the 18 seats that went to polls in the first phase, 12 are from the BJP stronghold of Bastar region from which it had got 11 in the last election. The election authorities had deployed more than 80,000 security personnel, and the choppers flew over 150 sorties to provide aerial surveillance. But there were a few stray violent incidents, including one involving a political attack on the Congress candidate from Jagdalpur Shamu Kashyap who has been hand-picked by the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. He was allegedly attacked by the BJP workers last night and hospitalised later.

According to reports, an average of 67 percent polling was recorded with some places like Kanker and Kondagaon that received VVIP campaign attention with both the Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the BJP’s prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi addressing rallies recorded 76 percent and 70 percent polling. However, the final figures would be available later.

Heavy polling was also registered at Rajnandgaon where the chief minister Raman Singh seeking a third term is facing Alka Mudaliar, the widow of the slain Congress leader Uday Mudaliar who was killed in a brutal Naxal attack last May.

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