Voting for the first phase of assembly elections began in Chhattisgarh at 7 am on Monday, which is being widely seen as a 'semi-final' ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. While polling for 10 seats began at 7 am and will end at 3 PM, voting for the remaining eight seats started at 8 a.m and will go on till 5 p.m. A total of 190 candidates are in the fray in the 18 constituencies spread over eight districts where Maoists have been active for over a quarter century.The BJP, ruling the state since 2003, has 49 seats in the outgoing Assembly, the Congress 38 and the Bahujan Samaj Party one in the 90 member Assembly. The election will also see a formidable third factor in an alliance stitched by Mayawati's BSP with the Chhattisgarh Janata Congress of former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi and the CPI.
Chief Minister Raman Singh is vying for a fourth consecutive term and his main opponent is BJP-turned-Congress leader Karuna Shukla, a niece of late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In the high stakes battle, Shukla, a former BJP Lok Sabha member, has taken on Raman Singh at his home turf Rajnandgaon.
Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections 2018: High-voltage election campaign ends, all eyes on Nov 12 polling
Chhattisgarh: Naxal gunned down in Bijapur, BSF ASI killed in IED blast in Kanker ahead of assembly polls tomorrow
HERE ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS:
7:23 PM: Two Maoists killed in an encounter with security forces in Sukma. Two rifles also recovered.
6:44 PM: Only one percent of EVM and 1.9 percent VVPATs were changed: Sudeep Jain, Election Commission
6:20 PM: Voting has ended, turnout is 70% till now in the first phase of Chhattisgarh Elections 2018. Figures will be updated later: Umesh Sinha, Election Commission
5:40 PM: Polling for all 18 seats in the first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections 2018 has ended.
4:56 PM: 56.58% voter turnout recorded till 4.30 pm in the first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections 2018 including 61.47% in Kondagaon; 63.51% in Keshkal; 62% in Kanker; 58% in Bastar; 49% in Dantewada; 60.5% in Khairagarh; 64% in Dongargarh; 65.5% in Khujji.
4:05 PM: Three more personnel of Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) are injured and around five Naxals are dead in the encounter that broke out between security forces & Naxals in Bijapur's Pamed area today. All the CoBRA personnel are out danger.
4:04 PM: Security forces defused IED detected on the road leading to Dwarapara polling booth, under PS Bairamgarh in Bijapur.
3:27 PM: 47.18% voter turnout recorded till 3 pm in the first phase of polling
3:24 PM: Voter turnout till 2 pm: Narayanpur- 63%, Bastar- 54%, Chitrakot- 54%, Jagadalpur- 48%, Kanker- 47.5%, Rajnandgaon 43%
3:10 PM: The Congress has alleged rampant EVM rigging in the Bastar area even as the Election Commission rejected the charges. "BJP has completely lost the plot in Chhattisgarh and its desperation and desolation is more than evident with reports of rigging of EVMs pouring in from Bastar," IANS quoted Congress Legislative Party leader TS Singh Deo as saying. The EC said "certain sources were spreading rumours of EVM malfunctioning and rigging". A poll officer said as many as 31 EVMs and 51 VVPAT machines were replaced due to technical snags.
3:05 PM: People in Dantewada's Madenda village have come out to cast their votes even after threat from the Naxals to cut their fingers if ink mark is seen on their fingers. "There are 263 registered voters in the village and many are voting despite the threat," ANI quoted a local as saying. A CRPF official said challenges had multiplied following the Nilwaya naxal attack, where DD cameraman Achyutanand Sahu was killed. "After the Nilwaya naxal attack, the challenges have gone up. Naxals had threatened villagers against voting. We assured the villagers of a secure environment and put in place a three-level security so that people can vote without fear," he said.
After the Nilwaya naxal attack, the challenges have gone up. Naxals had threatened villagers against voting. We assured the villagers of a secure environment, put in place a three level security so that people can vote without fear:CRPF official #ChhattisgarhAssemblyElections2018 pic.twitter.com/gqV7H5Vb4F— ANI (@ANI) November 12, 2018
1:14 PM: 25.15% voter turnout recorded till 1 pm in the first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections 2018.
1:11 PM: 103-year-old woman Soni Bai exercised her voting rights at a polling booth in Gorgunda's Devarpalli in Sukma. His son carried her to the polling station in his arms.
Sukma: 103-year-old woman Soni Bai exercised her voting rights at a polling booth in Gorgunda's Devarpalli. His son carried her to the polling station in his arms. #ChhattisgarhAssemblyElections2018 pic.twitter.com/dIJk9kXrRN— ANI (@ANI) November 12, 2018
12:50 PM: 2 Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) jawan injured in the encounter that broke out between security forces & Naxals in Bijapur's Pamed area.
12:46 PM: Encounter broke out between security forces & Naxals in Bijapur's Pamed area at around 12:20 pm today. Firing underway
12:20 PM: Certain sources are spreading rumours that EVMs are malfunctioning repeatedly. This is to clarify that above info is false. Voting is going on smoothly. If at all, any glitches are noticed, issue is sorted out as quickly as possible: Election Commission
12:03 PM: Voters in Jagdalpur's Gandhi Nagar ward protest outside the polling centre, say, "The names of many voters are missing including those who have been living here for the past 25 years."
#ChhattisgarhAssemblyElections2018: Voters in Jagdalpur's Gandhi Nagar ward protest outside the polling centre, say, "The names of many voters are missing including those who have been living here for the past 25 years." pic.twitter.com/AGri8PE626— ANI (@ANI) November 12, 2018
Rajnandgaon: People queued up outside the polling station in Naxal-affected Manpur's Pardoni village where Naxali posters & banners asking people to boycott elections had been seen. #ChhattisgarhAssemblyElections2018 pic.twitter.com/dhu9oQkV2H— ANI (@ANI) November 12, 2018
11:33 AM: 16.24% voter turnout recorded till now in the first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections in 18 assembly constituencies.
Rajnandgaon: Huge voter turnout (pic 1) at the polling station in Naxal-affected Manpur's Pardoni village where Naxali posters & banners (pic 2 & 3) asking people to boycott elections had been seen. #ChhattisgarhAssemblyElections2018 pic.twitter.com/Ld5SJEPnAX— ANI (@ANI) November 12, 2018
10:15 AM: 10.7% voter turnout recorded till 10 am in the first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections in 18 constituencies
10:10 AM: An IED was detected near a polling booth in Konta's Banda.
9:51 AM: 53 polling stations out of the total of 4336 reported delayed start of polling due to technical reasons, however, 100% polling stations have reported smooth polling with long queues outside: Election Commission
9:30 AM: A visually impaired person casts his vote at a polling station in Dantewada's Geedam
8:44 AM: Voting has resumed at the Pink polling booth in Kamla College, in Rajnandgaon's Sangwari
8:32 AM: Voting has stopped due to technical problem in the EVM at the Pink polling booth in Kamla College, in Rajnandgaon's Sangwari
8:25 AM: Nearly 900 polling personnel have been air-dropped from helicopters so that they can reach safely. Over 16,500 polling personnel went by-road. I think all will be in a position to deliver peaceful elections: Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat on #ChhattisgarhElections2018
8:24 AM: Polling is being held in 18 constituencies of Chhattisgarh today, they are Left Wing Extremism affected area. Polls being held in 2 phases to provide special security in these 18 constituencies.These 18 areas are kept in 1st phase so that paramilitary forces remain fresh: OP Rawat
8:07 AM: PM Modi urges voters to turnout in large numbers
छत्तीसगढ़ में मतदान का आज पहला चरण है। सभी मतदाताओं से मेरा आग्रह है कि वे पूरे उत्साह के साथ लोकतंत्र के महापर्व में अवश्य भाग लें और भारी संख्या में मतदान करें।— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 12, 2018
8:03 AM: IED was triggered by Naxals on Tumakpal-Nayanar road at around 5:30 am to target security forces. No harm to security forces & polling party. Party safely reached to Nayanar polling booth No. 183 under PS Katekalyan: Devnath, AIG (Anti-Naxal Ops)
7:49 AM: Voting to start in 5 constituencies of Rajnandgaon & 3 constituencies of Bastar at 8 am in the first phase
Voting to start in 5 constituencies of Rajnandgaon & 3 constituencies of Bastar at 8 am in the first phase of #ChhattisgarhAssemblyElections2018; #Visuals from a polling station in Rajnandgaon pic.twitter.com/Tk2vmlQrL5— ANI (@ANI) November 12, 2018
7:16 AM: The rest of the constituencies -- Khairagarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji, Bastar, Jagdalpur and Chitrakot -- will see polling from 8 a.m.
7:11 AM: 1-2 kilograms of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blasted by naxals near Tumakpal camp in Katekalyan block in Dantewada as voting is underway for 10 out of 18 seats in the first phase
7.09 AM: The 10 seats where early voting is being held are-Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur, Konta, Mohla Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal and Kondagaon.
7:02 AM: Polling for rest of the seats will begin at 8 AM and end at 5 PM
7:00 AM: Voting begins for 10 out of 18 seats in the first phase. It will end at 3 PM
The other constituencies that will see voting are Khairagarh, Dongargarh, Dongargaon, Khujji, Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Bastar, Jagdalpur, Chitrakot, Dantewada, Bijapur and Konta.
Twelve of them are in the insurgency-hit Bastar region and six in Rajnandgaon district.
A total of 4,336 polling booths have been set up for the first phase of the state polls. There are 31,80,014 voters, including 15,57,435 males, 16,22,492 females and 87 of the third gender.
Nearly one lakh security personnel, including paramilitary forces, have been deployed across the state for the first phase.
These are in addition to the existing paramilitary personnel and 200 companies of state forces engaged in anti-Maoist operations in the tribal-dominated state.
Indian Air Force and BSF choppers have also been pressed into service.
The Maoists, who have asked people to boycott the elections, have triggered several attacks in the last few days killing several people including a BSF trooper on Sunday.
The campaign which ended on Saturday witnessed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath raising the pitch for the saffron party.
Leading his party's charge, Congress President Rahul Gandhi attacked the BJP over corruption, agrarian distress and unemployment.
The second phase of the Chhattisgarh election will be held on November 20 and the votes will be counted on December 11 along with the Assembly polls of Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Rajasthan.
Pundits are viewing this round of Assembly polls as a 'semi-final' before the country plunges into the Lok Sabha battle.