There are 36 candidates in the fray in these seats, but the main fight is likely to be between the ruling Congress and the main opposition BJP.
Around 11 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the first two hours of polling in three Lok Sabha constituencies of Chhattisgarh on Thursday, an official said. Voting in the second phase of polling in the state began at 7 am in Kanker, Rajnandgaon and Mahasamund Lok Sabha seats, all having Naxal presence, amid tight security, the official at the state election office said.
“Around 11 per cent voting has been recorded till 9 am,” he said. A massive security blanket of around 60,000 personnel, and drones, has been thrown around the three constituencies for polls. A large part of the Kanker Lok Sabha constituency is Naxal-affected where security forces are maintaining extra vigil to ensure peaceful polling, the official said. Some pockets of Rajnandgaon and Mahasamund are also struggling with the Maoist menace. The Kanker Lok Sabha constituency has eight Assembly segments and of these, polling in four – Antagarh, Keshkal Bhanupratappur and Kanker – will be held from 7 am to 3 pm in view of the Maoist threat, the official said. In rest of the Assembly segments – Sihawa, Sanjari-Balod, Daundilohara and Gunderdehi – polling time is from 7 am to 5 pm, he said.
Of the 2,022 polling booths in the Kanker Lok Sabha seat, 490 have been marked as hypersensitive and 28 as sensitive, where additional security force will be deployed to prevent any untoward incident, the official said. The Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha constituency also consists of eight Assembly segments. One of them – Manpur-Mohla – will witness polling from 7 am to 3 pm, while voters in rest of them can exercise their democratic right from 7 am to 5 pm, the official said. Of the 2,322 polling stations in Rajnandgaon, 279 have been marked as hypersensitive and 302 as sensitive, he said.
The polling time in the Mahasamund constituency is from 7 am to 5 pm, except in six hypersensitive booths at Odh, Kamabhaundi, Amammora, Badegobra, Sahbinkachhar and Kodomali villages, where the voting time is from 7 am to 3 pm, he said. Of the 2,140 polling booths in the Mahasamund constituency, 254 have been marked as sensitive, he added. The maximum contestants – 14 – are in Rajnandgaon followed by 13 in Mahasamund and nine in Kanker. Altogether 49,07,489 voters – 24,69,110 women, 24,38,320 men and 59 members of the third gender – are eligible to exercise their franchise in these seats. There are 36 candidates in the fray in these seats, but the main fight is likely to be between the ruling Congress and the main opposition BJP.
The BJP has fielded Santosh Pandey, general secretary of the party’s state unit, in the high-profile Rajnandgaon seat by denying ticket to sitting MP Abhishek Singh, son of former Chief Minister Raman Singh. Pandey is pitted against Congress candidate Bholaram Sahu, a former MLA. In Kanker, the BJP denied ticket to sitting MP Vikram Usendi, president of its state unit, and fielded a fresh face, Mohan Mandavi. The Congress has pinned its hopes on Biresh Thakur, also a greenhorn, in the seat. In Mahasamund, the BJP chose former MLA Chunnilal Sahu over two-time MP Chandulal Sahu and he is taking on sitting Congress MLA Dhanendra Sahu.