Amidst reports of minor clashes at few places, civic polls for electing corporators for 85 wards of Indore Municipal Corporation began peacefully on Saturday under the watchful eyes of police. 45% of voters had exercised their franchise till 1pm.
Minor clashes were reported at Ward No 21 at Heera Nagar where the BJP and Congress workers entered into a brawl. Few of them were injured in the clash.
At Khantipura, independent candidate Harishankar Patel was manhandled by some miscreants. They even tore Patel’s clothes. At Khatiwala tank ward No 65, Congress office-bearers including Narendra Saluja, Gopa Godwani, Shailesh Garg and others lodged a protest after they saw BJP candidate’s husband Jawahar Mangwani and his supporters roaming inside the polling booth at Saraswati Shishu Vihar School.
In the beginning, voting was slow because of cold but picked up as the day progressed. There was a mad rush towards the polling booth around 11am and there were long queues outside polling booths, especially in Khajrana, Chandan Nagar and Mill areas. There were reports of face-offs between rival contestants in some wards as polling drew to a close.
The main contest is between the BJP and the Congress, though the latter has forfeited two of the 85 wards by failing to put up candidates. The main contestants for mayor's post, MLA Malini Laxmansingh Gaud of BJP and Archana Jaiswal of Congress voted early. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan also voted early in the morning and later left for Lucknow.
Gaud who stays in Cloth Market area came with her family members and cast her vote while Jaiswal cast her vote at Lodhipura situated Bhatewara community hall polling booth.
Of the 2,091 polling booths in Indore, 197 have been identified as sensitive and extra forces have been deployed there. As part of preparation for ensuring peaceful polls, 3,000 people with criminal records have been bonded over, 18 have been externed from the district and six have been booked under NSA. Around 10,000 arms have been deposited in the city.
Voters demand EVM
No EVM was provided at the polling booth at ward No 66 where BJP’s Kanchan Gidwani is alone in the fray. The voters lodged their protest and demanded EVM for the corporator elections. They said even though Gidwani is the lone candidate, voters have NOTA option.