A voter turnout of nearly 76.55 per cent was recorded in assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh on Friday. The voting figure surpassed the 75 per cent recorded in 2018. Polling was held for all 230 constituencies in a single phase.
Voting was approximately 76.55 per cent, the state's Chief Electoral Officer Anupam Rajan said. The incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party and opposition Congress are locked in a direct fight in the state. The polling was marred by violence in a few places. An aide of a Congress candidate was killed after two groups clashed in Rajnagar, police said.
Voting in naxalite-affected Balaghat, Mandla and Dindori districts ended at 3 PM while it continued till 6 PM in other parts of the state. Polling had begun at 7 AM across all 230 constituencies. In Balaghat district, Baihar assembly constituency recorded a turnout of 80.38 per cent, Lanjhi 75.07 per cent and Paraswada 81.56 per cent.
As many as 2,533 candidates, including chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the BJP and his predecessor and state Congress chief Kamal Nath, are in the fray. The state Congress chief accused the BJP of distributing money and liquor to voters on the eve of the elections.
In neighbouring Chhattisgarh, a voter turnout of 70.59 per cent (provisional) was recorded in the second phase of assembly elections for 70 constituencies on Friday, where voting was held under a thick security blanket of police and paramilitary personnel, officials said. A jawan of the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) was killed in a blast triggered by Naxalites in Gariaband district of the state when a polling team being escorted by security personnel was returning after conducting voting, they said.
Polling in 70 constituencies began at 8 am and concluded at 5 pm, except in nine polling booths in the Naxal-affected Bindranawagarh seat in Gariaband district, where voting was held from 7 am till 3 pm for security reasons, a poll official said.
"An average voter turnout of 70.59 per cent was recorded in 70 seats. However, this figure may go up as it takes time to receive final data from many booths," the official said. Of the 70 seats, the highest turnout was recorded in Sanjari-Balod seat (Balod district) at 84.07 per cent, while the lowest voting percentage was recorded in Raipur City South- an urban constituency, at 52.11 per cent, as per the Turnout app of the Election Commission of India (ECI). In terms of the districts, Raipur district, which has seven assembly seats, recorded a low voter turnout of 58.83 per cent. Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel's constituency Patan saw a significant turnout of 83.90 per cent.
The second phase of polls will decide the electoral fate of political heavyweights like Chief Minister Baghel, his deputy T S Singh Deo, eight state ministers and four members of Parliament. Talking to reporters, Baghel expressed confidence that the Congress would win 75-plus seats (in the 90-member assembly) and said there is a one-sided contest in Patan segment.
While the main fight is between the BJP and the Congress, a three-way contest is on the cards in several seats of Bilaspur division where former CM Ajit Jogi's party and the BSP have pockets of influence. The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP has also been focusing on seats in the division.
The first phase of elections for 20 seats in the Naxal-affected state, which has a 90-member assembly, was held on November 7 and saw a high voter turnout of 78 per cent.