Madhya Pradesh touched a record 70% turnout in the Monday elections, which was held amid sporadic violence and will seal the fate of the 230-member state assembly.
Polling commenced at 227 assembly constituencies across the state at 8am. At three constituencies in Maoist-hit Balaghat district, voting started at 7am and ended at 3pm.
The votes in MP and Mizoram held on Monday, which come after Chhattisgarh, leave only two assembly polls — in Rajasthan and Delhi — remaining this year. The state elections are setting the tone and serving as a virtual semi-final for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
In the 2008 edition, 69.28% of the MP voters had cast their ballot,with the winning Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress getting nearly 37% and 32% of the votes, respectively.
This year, voting was held at 53,946 polling booths spread over 51 districts of the state, which houses nearly 46.4 million voters.
The polling, which was by and large peaceful in the morning, was gripped by violence in the later part.
One person was killed and seven were injured in a clash between Congress and BJP supporters in Khargone district’s Kasravad assembly constituency.
Security personnel on poll duty resorted to firing to tame a mob in Sumaoli constituency in Morena district, reportedly killing the Congress candidate’s nephew who allegedly tried to capture a booth.
The Congress candidate from Icchawar assembly constituency was injured in a clash between Congress and BJP workers.
State woman and child development minister Ranjana Baghel, BJP candidate from Manawar (ST) seat in Dhar district, allegedly attempted bribing some voters. The police registered a case against her.
Two state government employees on election duty died of heart attack in Vijay Raghogarh and Munagaoli assembly constituencies.
As many as 2,583 candidates are in the fray this time, including chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who is contesting from the Budhni and Vidisha seats.
“I request all the people of Madhya Pradesh to vote for the BJP and bring it to power. I will do everything possible to make sure that the state flourishes,” Chouhan said.
For the ruling BJP, a slip in MP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls could prove a double blow. It would take the sheen off Chouhan’s résumé. A setback would also hurt the party’s PM candidate Narendra Modi, as he pursues a national agenda.
“I am not an astrologer, but I am sure that the Congress will form the government,” Congress campaign panel chairperson in MP and Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said after casting his vote.