The second and final phase of Chhattisgarh assembly elections saw nearly 75% voter turnout in a by and large peaceful poll on Tuesday. The turnout bettered the record of the 2008 polls by close to 4% in the same region.
In the early hours of Tuesday, voters queued up in large numbers outside polling stations across the 72 constituencies going to the polls, to decide the fate of 843 candidates, including nine ministers. Minor skirmishes and protests were reported in some places.
One civilian was killed and three others were injured at Saja constituency in Durg district in an “accidental” firing incident by a CRPF trooper on poll duty. Durg inspector general Ashok Juneja told media persons that a few civilians in an “inebriated’ condition had a verbal altercation with the CRPF jawan when they tried to break the queue to vote at the Bhindarwani polling centre. “There will be an inquiry. Prima facie it appears to be accidental firing,” Juneja said.
There were also reports of a technical snag developing in 35 electronic voting machines at different places. “They were replaced,” chief electoral officer Sunil Kujur told HT.
A high turnout in the Maoist-affected state is being seen as a victory for the election commission and security forces. “The electorate defied the Maoist’s diktat in the first phase resulting in an impressive poll percentage. The second phase saw high turnout among the youth, besides women outnumbering male voters. This will hopefully give out an inspirational message to follow for other states where polls are due”, former state election commission Sushil Trivedi told HT. In the 2008 polls, the turnout in these 72 constituencies was 71.09%.
Both the Congress and the BJP claimed high turnout will go in their favour. “The people are coming out to express their resentment against the bad governance and rampant corruption of the BJP,” said former chief minister Ajit Jogi, who was among the first to cast his ballot in Bilaspur district. Chief minister Raman Singh, however, interpreted the turnout as the people’s wish to offer yet another chance to the BJP.
The Election Commission called it the highest turnout in these seats. “Polling was impressive and largely peaceful,” deputy election commissioner R Balakrishnan said.