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Chhattisgarh: 45% turnout in polling (Third Lead)

Tuesday - November 20, 2018 4:14 pm , Category : INDIA
Raipur, Nov 20 (IANS) Authorities reported 45 per cent polling by Tuesday evening in the second and final phase in 72 seats to elect a new Chhattisgarh Assembly.
Amid allegations of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) tampering and malfunctioning in several areas, an overall 45.20 per cent turnout was recorded till 3 p.m., according to the Election Commission (EC). From first-time voters to centenarians, people from all walks of life queued up to vote as the day progressed. Among the oldest to vote were 106-year-old Samudri Patel from Baikunthpur in Korea district and 102-year-old Raj Kunwar from Boriyakala in Raipur district. The highest turnout was recorded in Bhatgaon at 54.30 per cent followed by Jashpur at 51.20 per cent. It was lowest in Raipur City North with 36.40 per cent and Raipur City South at 39.70 per cent. EVMs malfunctioned in several booths across Dhamtari, Jashpur, Raipur, Ambikapur and Korba constituencies, with the Congress accusing the state's ruling BJP of indulging in "electoral malpractices" and "attempting to disrupt" the poll process. A Congress delegation led by P.L. Punia met the EC in the national capital over the alleged "attempts to misuse and tamper EVMs in Chhattisgarh". Punia said the BJP "wary of losing the polls, was trying to influence and affect the polling process through electoral malpractices". The Congress also demanded suspension and arrest of BJP candidate Siddhnath Paikra in Samri in Balrampur district for "distributing money" to voters. The EC has rejected the allegations of widespread malfunctioning of the voting machines and asserted that the faulty machines were promptly replaced without any disruption to the voting process. "At the 19,336 polling stations being used in second phase using 25,640 Ballot Units (BUs), 19,336 Control Units (CUs) and 19,336 VVPATs, only 47 BUs, 37 CUs and 131 VVPATs have needed replacement during the polls. "Given sufficient reserves available, the said replacements were handled swiftly by the local polling personnel," EC Spokesperson Sheyphali Sharan said. The state, carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000, is for the first time witnessing a three-way contest with the ruling BJP fighting it out against the Congress and the Ajit Jogi-Mayawati-led alliance emerging as a formidable third front. A total of 1,079 candidates are in the fray, with both the Congress and the BJP contesting all the 72 seats. The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is in the fray for 25 seats and its ally and former Chief Minister Jogi's Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (J) in 46 seats. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded candidates in 66 constituencies. An electorate of over 1.5 crore, including over 77 lakh male and over 76 lakh female voters, is eligible to exercise their franchise. The BJP is in power in the state since 2003.
--IANS and/mr