Madhya Pradesh saw a 60.08% turnout in the nine constituencies that went to polls on Thursday. The turnout was higher than the 54.6% figure in the previous Lok Sabha elections.
Balloting was peaceful with no major untoward incidents reported from anywhere.
Union minister Kamal Nath's home turf Chhindwara saw the highest turnout (70.93%). The minister is contesting from the seat to make it to Lok Sabha for the ninth time.
Besides Kamal Nath, the list of heavyweights included Congress legislator Ajay Singh and BJP's tribal leader Faggan Singh Kulaste.
Out of the total 60.08%, 62.18% were men and 57.80% were women, until 8.30pm, Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Office sources said. However, the final figure would go up further, sources said.
Altogether 118 candidates were in the fray in the nine constituencies — Chhindwara, Satna, Rewa, Balaghat, Sidhi, Shahdol, Mandla, Jabalpur, and Hoshangabad.
Polling for rest of the 20 constituencies will be held over the next two phases on April 17 and 24.
Riding on the projected "Modi wave", chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's popularity and a strong showing in the assembly elections last year, the BJP is confident of a good performance.
According to electoral office, the polling percentage in Satna was 53.77%, Rewa was 53.99%, Sidhi was 56.45%, Shahdol was 60.79%, Jabalpur was 48.14%, Mandla was 65.53%, Balaghat was 62.52%, Chhindwara was 70.93% and Hoshagabad was 65.01%.
In 2009, the saffron party had won just four seats out of the nine that will go to polls in the first phase. The Congress had bagged an equal number of seats. The Bahujan Samaj Paty (BSP) had won one.
Of the nine seats, eight are in Vindhya and Mahakoshal regions in the eastern part of the state.
The Hoshangabad constituency is in the central region.
Caste factor plays a role in the politics of Vindhya region, much like in bordering areas of neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.
Brahmins and Thakurs call the shots, but Vindhya region also has significant presence of OBCs and Scheduled Castes. This is where the BSP and the Samajwadi Party (SP) come into the reckoning.
In the largely bi-polar politics of the state, Rewa was the only seat in 2009 which went to a non-BJP, non-Congress party. A BSP nominee from the OBC section had won the seat.
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