Raipur, Nov 19 (PTI) : Around 30 per cent polling was recorded till noon today in 72 constituencies spread over 19 districts of Chhattisgarh where voting for the second and last phase of Assembly polls is underway.
Governor Shekhar Dutt, Chief Minister Raman Singh, state Assembly Speaker Dharamlal Kaushik and Leader of Opposition in Assembly Ravindra Choubey exercised their franchise in their respective constituencies.
No untoward incident has been reported so far from any part of the state.
“So far the elections in 72 constituencies of 19 districts have been incident-free and 30 per cent polling was recorded till 12 noon,” a senior election official told PTI.
EVMs were changed at around 10 polling stations due to some technical problems, he said.
State Governor Shekhar Dutt cast his vote in Raipur city north seat where BJP’s Srichand Sundarani and Congress’ sitting MLA Kuldeep Singh Juneja are in close contest.
Chief Minister Raman Singh voted in his hometown, which falls in Kawardha constituency.
On this seat, BJP has denied ticket to its sitting MLA and given an opportunity to Ashok Sahu, while Congress has pitted its senior leader Mohammad Akbar.
Speaker Dharamlal Kaushik exercised his vote in Bilha constituency. He had won this seat against Congress candidate Siyaram Kaushik by 6,070 votes in 2008 elections. Congress has given another opportunity to Siyaram from the same seat.
Ravindra Choubey voted in his home constituency Saja.
A total of 843 candidates are contesting with an electorate of 1,39,75,470 in the last of the two-phase polls to the 90-member Assembly in the state where BJP government led by Chief Minister Raman Singh is eyeing for a hat-trick against the Congress.
Over one lakh security force personnel have been deployed across the state to ensure peaceful polling.
The polling is taking place in central and north Chhattisgarh, where 72 candidates each from the BJP and Congress are in fray. There are 75 women contestants.
A maximum 38 candidates are fielded from Raipur city south constituency, while least number of candidates – five – are in Saraipali.
The fate of Assembly Speaker Dharamlal Kaushik (Bilha constituency) and nine ministers, state BJP unit president Ramsewak Paikra (Pratappur), Leader of Opposition Ravindra Choubey (Saja) and former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi’s wife Renu Jogi (Kota) will be decided in this phase.
Also, the son of late PCC chief Nandkumar Patel, Umesh Patel (Kharsiya) and Jogi’s son Amit Jogi (Marwahi) are in fray in the second phase.
Meanwhile, security forces have been directed to stay alert in some districts of Sarguja and Raipur divisions, located on inter-state border, where frequent movement of Naxals had been witnessed.
According to police, Naxals may try to create trouble in Mahasamund, Gariyaband and Dhamtari of Raipur division bordering Odisha and Jashpur, Raigarh and Ambikapur in north Chhattisgarh during polling process.
Of the total number of candidates, 71,39,631 are men, 68,30,179 women and 5,660 are service voters, while of the total 72 seats, 17 are reserved for Scheduled Tribe and 9 are reserved for Scheduled caste.
A total of 18,015 polling booths have been set up for the second phase, of which 4,594 are sensitive booths, while 1,398 are hyper-sensitive stations.
As many as 20,957 ballot units and 18,015 control units will be used in this phase.
In 11 constituencies- Kota, Lormi, Takhatpur, Beltara, Chandrapur, Kasdol, Raipur city south, Durg city, Bhilai Nagar, Vaishali Nagar, Bemetara – more than one ballot unit will be used. Three ballot units will be placed only in Raipur city south.
Besides, 3,000 cameras will be used for monitoring during polling process, he said.
Around 80,000 officials have been involved in conducting the polling today.
A record 75.53 per cent voting was recorded in first phase of polling held on November 11 for 18 constituencies of Naxal-hit Bastar division and Rajnandgaon district.
Counting will take place on December 8.