Raipur: With security forces keeping a hawk eye's vigil, peaceful polling was held in 18 Assembly seats of remote Naxalite-affected areas under the first phase of Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh on Monday.
Chhattisgarh Chief Electoral Officer Subrat Sahoo said that polling began at 0700 hrs due to security reasons at 10 hypersensitive seats-- Mohla Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur and Konta. Voting on these seats concluded at 1500 hrs.
Polling on eight seats-Khairagarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Khujji, Bastar, Jagdalpur and Chitrakot--began at 0800 hrs and will continue till 1700 hrs.
Forces, equipped with modern weapons,were deployed in every nook and corner, in the wake of yesterday's blast set off by Naxalites in Kanker, an encounter that broke out with Maoists in Bijapur district and images of Naxals captured in drone cameras.Elaborate arrangements had been made for peaceful polling. About 650 companies of Central and State Police Forces were deployed.
Besides, several Air Force helicopters were pressed in action for polling. About 1,000 polling staff were ferried by helicopters to difficult and remote areas of Bijapur, Sukma, Kanker, Narayanpur, Bastar and Kondagaon.
According to Chief Electoral Officer, a total of 190 candidates were in the fray and 4,336 polling centres have been set up. About 1,190 centres in 12 seats of Bastar division and 221 polling centres in Rajnandgaon district have been identified as hyper sensitive and 256 polling centres as sensitive while 396 other polling centres have been considered as politically sensitive.
A total of 31 lakh 80 thousand 014 voters can exercise their franchise in 1st phase. They include 15 lakh 57 thousand 435 men, 16 lakh 22 thousand 492 women and 87 third gender voters. Two EVMs had been installed in each of Rajnandgaon, Jagdalpur and Khujji seats as each of them had more than 16 candidates.
Voter selfie zone has been created in every polling centre to increase polling percentage. By clicking selfie, the voters can upload image on twitter and Facebook page of State Electoral Officer. Five best selfies from each assembly constituency will be awarded.
Mr Sahoo said that arrangements for webcasting had been made in 252 out of 4,336 polling centres for monitoring. Election Commission of India and also State Election Office can monitor polling through webcasting. About 19,000 officials and staff of security forces were deployed to conduct polling.
Rajnandgaon was the cynosure of all eyes since Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh is candidate on this seat for the third time. He is pitted against Indian National Congress candidate Karuna Shukla, who is niece of former Prime Minister late Atal Behari Vajpayee. Polling is also being held on seats School Education Minister Kedar Kashap in Narayanpur and Forest Minister Mahesh Gagda in Bijapur.(UNI)