Raipur, Nov 20 (IANS) Polling was underway on Tuesday in the second and concluding phase in 72 seats spread across 19 districts to elect a new Chhattisgarh Assembly, with nearly 13 per cent of the over 1.5 crore electorate casting their votes in the first two hours, officials said.
“Till 10 a.m., 12.54 per cent voter turnout has been recorded,” said an election official, adding that polling was completely peaceful.
The state, carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000, is for the first time witnessing a three-way contest with the ruling BJP wrestling it out with the opposition Congress and the Ajit Jogi-Mayawati-led alliance emerging as a formidable third front.
A total of 1,079 candidates are in the fray, with both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) contesting all the 72 seats.
The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is in the fray for 25 seats and its ally and former Chief Minister Jogi’s Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (J) is vying in 46 seats.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded candidates in 66 constituencies.
An electorate of over 1.5 crore, including over 77 lakh male and over 76 lakh female voters, are eligible to exercise their franchise.
There are nearly 1,000 voters from the third gender.
The highest number of 46 contestants are in the Raipur City South constituency, while the lowest number of six contestants are in the Bindranavagarh seat.
Elaborate security arrangements, including deployment of helicopters and drones, have been put in place for the balloting, to take place at over 19,000 polling booths. Over a lakh security personnel have also been positioned.
Extra vigil is being maintained in Maoist-affected Gariaband, Dhamtari, Mahasamund, Kabirdham, Jashpur and Balrampur districts.
The BJP is in power in the state since 2003.
Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, a host of political leaders took to social media to urge voters to exercise their rights in large numbers.