Polling begins on a dull note amid tight security
Amidst tightest ever security arrangements in view of threat of Naxalite violence, polling began on a dull note in Chhattisgarh for the 11 Lok Sabha seats and two assembly by-polls.
An electorate of nearly 1.37 crore are likely to decide the fate of 102candidates in more or less direct contests between an upbeat BJP and a crest-fallen Congress across the state having a sizeable tribal population.
Prominent among those in the fray are Union minister Ramesh Bais and SC Shukla (Raipur), former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi and VC Shukla (Mahasamund), Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's niece Karuna Shukla and PCC executive president Charan Das Mahant (Janjgir).
Polling also began for two assembly seats--Akaltara and Dongargaon from where Chief Minister Raman Singh is contesting.
As part of unprecedented security arrangements, the authorities are taking the help of Indian Air Force choppers fitted with sophisticated weapons to ferry polling staff and material in the Bastar region, worst-hit by ultra-left violence, which has claimed the lives of two policemen and left 13 other hurt since campaigning began three weeks ago.
Out of the 15,669 polling booths, 12,739 are located in rural areas. While 3,500 booths have been marked "sensitive", 1,300 polling stations are considered to be "hyper-sensitive" and maximum number of para-military forces have been deployed in these booths out of over 100 companies pressed into service.