Chief Minister Raman Singh and over 400 others candidates have filed nominations for the first phase of the Chhattisgarh Assembly polls to be held on November 12.
The process of filing nominations closed on Tuesday for the first phase of the polls. The nominations will be scrutinised on Wednesday and the last date for withdrawal is October 26.
A total of 421 nominations were filed for the first phase of polling, in which 18 of the 90 Assembly segments in the state will be covered, a statement issued by the state Chief Electoral Officer's (CEO) office said.
There was a huge rush to file nominations Tuesday, with as many as 323 papers filed on a single day, it added.
Singh, who is seeking a fourth term as the chief minister of Chhattisgarh, filed his nomination from the Rajnandgaon Assembly constituency.
The Congress has fielded Karuna Shukla, the niece of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpyee, against Singh from Rajnandgaon. She also filed her nomination on the last day.
Besides, two ministers, Kedar Kashyap (Narayanpur-ST) and Mahesh Gagda (Bijapur-ST), former minister Lata Usendi (Kondagaon-ST) and Lok Sabha MP Vikram Usendi (Antagarh-ST) of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and senior Congress leader Kawasi Lakhma (Sukma-ST) will be in the fray in the first phase.
Twelve Assembly segments of the Naxalism-hit Bastar division comprising Bastar, Jagdalpur, Chitrakot, Kanker, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Konta, Bijapur,
Dantewada, Narayanpur, Kondagaon and Keshkal will go to the polls in the first phase, along with six seats in Rajnandgaon district -- Rajnandgaon, Dongargarh, Khujji, Mohala-Manpur, Dongargaon and Khairagarh -- which are partially affected by the Maoist menace.
Of the 18 seats going to the polls in the first phase, 12 are reserved for the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category, while one is reserved for the Scheduled Caste (SC) category.
Stakes are very high for the ruling BJP in these 18 seats, as it had lost 12 of them in the last polls in 2013.
The saffron party has renominated its candidates who had lost the last time from Kondagaon, Bastar, Konta, Dantewada and Khairagarh constituencies.
The remaining 72 constituencies in the state will go to the polls in the second phase on November 20. The counting of votes will be taken up on December 11.
In the 2013 polls, of the 90 Assembly seats in Chhattisgarh, the BJP had won 49, Congress 39, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) one and an Independent candidate had won one.
( With inputs from PTI )