Raipur | Voting for the second and final phase of the Chhattisgarh Assembly polls began on a slow note on Tuesday with 12.54 percent of the electorate exercising their franchise in the first two hours, an official said. A total of 1,079 candidates, including 119 women, are contesting in 72 constituencies of the state with an electorate of 1,54,00,596.
This is the last of the two-phase polls to the 90-member assembly in Chhattisgarh where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been in power for the last 15 years. “Voting began at 8 am and around 12.54 percent voter turnout was recorded till 10 am,” an election official said.
There were reports of technical snags in electronic voting machines (EVMs) at some places and corrective measures were taken, he said. Two state ministers -Rajesh Munat and Premprakash Pandey – and BJP’s national general secretary Saroj Pandey voted in their respective areas.
The time of polling is from 8 am to 5 pm, but in two polling booths – Amamora (booth no. 72) and Modh (no.76) in Bindranavgarh constituency (Gariaband) – voting is being held from 7 am to 3 pm due to threat posed by Naxals, the official said. Around 1.50 lakh security personnel have been deployed across the state to ensure peaceful polling, he said.
In the second phase, districts like Gariaband, Dhamtari, Mahasamund, Kabirdham, Jashpur and Balrampur are Naxal-affected areas and extra vigil is being maintained there, the official said. The maximum number of 46 candidates are in Raipur City South constituency and the least number of six candidates are in the Bindranavagarh seat.
Of the 72 seats, 17 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes and nine for Scheduled Castes. A total of 19,336 polling booths have been set up for the second phase, of which 444 are sensitive booths.
The first phase of polls in 18 seats of eight Naxal- hit districts on November 12 had recorded over 76 percent voter turnout. The counting of votes will be held on December 11.
Rahul Gandhi meets top Cong leaders to select next Chhattisgarh CM
New Delhi | After selecting chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi held hectic parleys with top party leaders on Saturday to decide on the top post for Chhattisgarh. Sources said Gandhi met Chhattisgarh’s four potential chief minister candidates — T S Singh Deo, Tamradhwaj Sahu, Bhupesh Baghel and Charan Das Mahant — at his Tughlaq Lane residence and held discussions with them.
This is the third round of discussion that the Congress chief is holding before selecting the chief minister for Chhattisgarh, where the party romped home to power after 15 years with a two-thirds majority. Congress‘ central observer Mallikarjun Kharge and AICC in-charge for party affairs in Chhattisgarh P L Punia were also present at the meeting.
The sources said UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were also present at the Congress chief’s residence. They said that a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) is slated to be held at 4.00 pm in Raipur, Chhattisgarh.
However, it was not clear whether the announcement would be made in the national capital or in Raipur.
The Congress Friday named Ashok Gehlot Rajasthan’s next chief minister after several rounds of discussions lasting more than two days. In Madhya Pradesh, Congress leader Kamal Nath was made chief minister-designate on December 13.
Odisha CM hopeful of solution to Mahanadi water dispute
Bhubaneswar | Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has expressed hope that the Mahanadi water dispute with Chhattisgarh would be resolved soon after the change of government in the neighbouring state. The Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) on Tuesday also said that there could be some relief in store for the state on the matter.
Replying to a question on the Mahanadi water dispute with Chhattisgarh on Tuesday, BJD president Patnaik said, “We hope of finding a resolution soon.”
Chhattisgarh has been accused of constructing projects on the upstream of Mahanadi river and blocking the flow of water downstream to Odisha.
The Congress has all along stood by Odisha in the water dispute. The matter is now pending before a tribunal. The Congress will form the next government in Chhattisgarh, ending the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) 15-year reign in the state.
Cong ends BJP’s 15-year rule in Chhattisgarh
Raipur | The Congress is headed for a massive victory in the Chhattisgarh Assembly polls, bagging 53 seats and leading in 15 more in the 90-member House by late Tuesday night. According to the latest Election Commission (EC) data, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was in power in the state for 15 years, had won only 11 seats and was leading in another four. Now former CM Raman Singh meanwhile, resigns.
The Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) of former chief minister Ajit Jogi had won three seats and was leading in two. Jogi’s ally, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), had won one seat and was leading in one. In an embarrassment to the ruling party, eight ministers of the BJP lost.
Home Minister Ramsevak Paikra was defeated by the Congress’s Premsai Singh Tekam by 44,105 votes, Sports and Youth Welfare Minister Bhaiyyalal Rajwade suffered defeat at the hands of Congress’s Ambika Singhdeo, hailing from the erstwhile royal family of Koriya, at Baikunthpur by 5,339 votes.
Urban Administration Minister Amar Agrawal was defeated by the Congress’s Shailesh Pandey by 11,221 votes at Bilaspur. Public Works Department Minister Rajesh Munat suffered a loss to the Congress’s youth leader, Vikas Upadhyay, by 12,212 votes in the Raipur City West seat.
Two prominent ministers from the Bastar region, Mahesh Gagda (Bijapur) and Kedar Kashyap (Narayanpur), also tasted defeat. Kashyap was defeated by the Congress’s Chandan Kashyap by a margin of 2,647 votes and Gagda lost to the Congress’s Vikram Mandavi by 21,584 votes.
Cooperative Minister Dayaldas Baghel was defeated by the Congress’s Gurudayal Singh Banjare by 33,200 votes, while Higher Education Minister Premprakash Pandey suffered a loss against the Congress’s Devendra Yadav in the Bhilai Nagar seat.
However, BJP minister Ajay Chandrakar managed to retain his Kurud seat, defeating Independent Neelam Chandrakar by 12,317 votes. Similarly, Agriculture Minister Brijmohan Agrawal emerged the winner from Raipur City South, defeating the Congress’s Kanhaiya Agrawal by 17,496 votes.
The leader of Opposition T S Singhdeo defeated the BJP’s Anurag Singhdeo by 39,624 votes. The Congress leader had defeated Anurag in the 2013 and 2008 state polls too. Deputy Leader of Opposition, the Congress’s Kawasi Lakhma, emerged victorious from Konta, defeating the BJP’s Dhaniram Barse by 6,709 votes.
Congress MP from Durg Tamradhwaj Sahu bagged the Durg Rural seat, defeating the BJP’s Jageshwar Sahu by 27,112 votes. State Congress president Bhupesh Baghel defeated the BJP’s Motilal Sahu in the Patan seat by 27,477 votes.
Ajit Jogi won from Marwahi, defeating the BJP’s Archana Porte by 46,462 votes. His wife Renu Jogi, who recently quit the Congress and joined his husband’s party, won the Kota seat, defeating the BJP’s Kashiram Sahu by 3,026 votes.
Chief Minister Raman Singh was leading in the Rajnandgaon seat against his nearest rival, Karuna Shukla of the Congress. State Assembly Speaker Gaurishankar Agrawal was trailing.
The voting was held in two phases on November 12 and 20. After it became clear that the Congress was heading for a massive victory, Chief Minister Raman Singh submitted his resignation to the governor. Singh told reporters that he accepted the responsibility for the loss, refusing to pass the buck to the BJP’s national leadership.
“The election was solely contested on a state agenda and it was not related to Delhi. We will sit with the party workers and analyze the defeat in detail. This will not reflect on the 2019 Lok Sabha election,” he said.
In the 2013 Assembly polls, the BJP had won 49 seats, the Congress 39, while one seat each was bagged by the BSP and an Independent.
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