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Stray violence mars polling

Chief Minister Digvijay Singh was among the early voters in his Raghogarh constituency while BJP's chief ministerial candidate Uma Bharati cast her vote in Tikamgarh. There were reports of firing

india Updated: Dec 01, 2003 14:42 IST

Polling in India's second largest state Madhya Pradesh progressed slowly on Monday with 30-35 per cent of the voters exercising their franchise till 1300 hrs.

Stray incidents of violence were reported from across the state, where 37.9 million voters are eligible to vote to elect 230 legislators.

The rural areas were a little better off, said officials.

"In the rural areas, 12 percent polling was registered while in the urban areas, the percentage ranged between six and 12 till noon," said an official of the State Election Commission.

According to sources, stray incidents of violence were reported from booths in Bhind, Morena, Damoh, Jabalpur and Shivpuri districts of northern Madhya Pradesh.

However, police and election commission officials have denied reports of poll-related violence.

In some polling booths in Bhind and Morena, armed miscreants barged into the polling booths and smashed the electronic voting machines (EVMs), sources said.

Voters in a polling booth in Shivpuri smashed some EVMs after an altercation with security personnel manning the booths.

Moreover, Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers reportedly clashed in some booths in Damoh and Jabalpur districts.

Sources said at least eight persons have been injured in the poll-related clashes.

A total of 2,171 candidates, including 197 women, are in the fray. The main contest is between the ruling Congress and the main opposition BJP.

Digvijay Singh will continue as the chief minister if the Congress is able to win the elections for a third time in a row. The BJP has projected Uma Bharati as its chief ministerial candidate.

The Congress has fielded candidates in 229 constituencies and the BJP in all 230 constituencies.

The Samajwadi Party has fielded candidates in 161 constituencies, the Bahujan Samaj Party in 160 and the Nationalist Congress Party in 105. There are a total of 878 independent candidates in the fray.

First Published: Dec 01, 2003 12:24 IST