Chhattisgarh elections LATEST updates: Five personnel of the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) were injured in the encounter that broke out between Bijapur's Pamed area on Monday. All the CoBRA personnel are out danger and five Naxals have been killed in the gunfight.
After completion of voting in 10 constituencies till 3 pm, 47.18 percent voter turnout had been recorded in the first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly elections 2018, ANI reported.
After the end of phase 1 of polling in 10 constituencies, Chhattisgarh had seen almost 34% voter turnout. In Sukma's Konta, 315 votes have been cast so far which is much higher than the number of votes polled in 2013 elections, which saw only 5 votes being cast.
The Naxals had threatened the voters that their fingers would be cut if an ink mark was found on them, But the voters showed courage and exercised their democratic right.
Despite Maoists planting IED bombs in various in Sukma and Bhanupratappur, most areas recorded more than 50 percent voting. Narayanpur saw a voter turnout of 63 percent whereas Bastar saw 54 percent voting. On the other hand, Chitrakot had 54 percent voting percentage and Jagadalpur, Kanker and Rajnandgaon saw 48 percent, 47.5 percent and Rajnandgaon 43 percent respectively.
Out of the total 900 registered voters at the Sulangi polling booth in Koyalibeda village of Kanker, only 120 votes were polled until 2 pm. The slow voting is reported to be due to repeated EVM malfunctioning at the booth.
Two IED bombs weighing 5kg and 10 kg, respectively, were found in a village at Bhanupratappur Assembly constituency. The bombs were in Kodekurse police station limits and were diffused by the Bomb Disposal Squad.
Palamadagu polling booth in Konta constituency is one of the booths where no votes have been caste until 12 pm. Naxals have written messages on walls and asked voters to boycott the elections. According to reports, voter turnout till 1 pm in Sukma's Konta was at 33 percent. Kondgaon recorded a 46 percent voter turnout while Keskal recorded 44 percent.
Till 1 pm, 25.15 percent voter turnout recorded in the first phase of polling in 18 constituencies of Chhattisgarh. Since morning, three IEDs were triggered in the poll-bound districts. Encounter was underway in Bijapur's Pamed area when Naxals clashed with CoBRA forces.
Latest reports have said that two Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) jawans were injured in the encounter that broke out between security forces and Naxals in Bijapur's Pamed area. The encounter, ANI reports, started at around 12.20 pm. Bijapur district is voting in Phase one.
The Election Commission has clarified that all EVMs are working properly across Chhattisgarh during the first phase of the elections. "Certain sources are spreading rumours that EVMs are malfunctioning repeatedly. This is to clarify that above info is false. Voting is going on smoothly. If at all, any glitches are noticed, issue is sorted out as quickly as possible," the Election Commission told ANI.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is addressing a campaign rally in Chhattisgarh's Bilaspur. Urging voters to come out in large numbers to cast their vote, Modi said that only by voting can they respond to those who rely on the powers of "bam, bandook aur pistol".
Voters in Jagdalpur's Gandhi Nagar ward protested outside the polling centre as they alleged that the names of many voters were missing from the voting list "including those who have been living here for the past 25 years".
Congress' TS Singh who is presently the strongest contender for the chief minister's post in Chattisgarh told 101Reporters said that there is no chance of any post-poll alliance with Ajit Jogi. "If there is no pre-poll alliance then there will not be any post-poll alliance. We will not go with the party whose party chief is so controversial. There are chances that the Congress party may go with like-minded parties but definitely not with Jogi," Deo said. He also said that the chief minister will be from the Congress if the party forms its government in the state.
Mortal remains of BSF Sub-Inspector Mahender Singh who lost his life in an IED blast in Chhattisgarh's Kanker on Sunday, were brought to his residence in Dumariya village in the Bharatpur district.
A thick security blanket, comprising over 1.25 lakh police and paramilitary personnel, has been thrown across the 18 constituencies as they fall under the Naxal-hit areas of Bastar, Kanker, Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur, Kondagaon and Rajnandgaon districts.
Meanwhile, thirty-one EVMs and 61 VVPAT machines were replaced due to technical snags, a poll official said. Sukma's Superintendent of Police (SP) Abhishek Meena said that voters from interiors areas in the district were coming out to exercise their right to franchise, defying the Naxals' call for the election boycott.
In 'Bhejji 2' and Gorkha polling booths, zero voting was recorded in the 2013 polls, but this time 11 and 20 voters respectively had voted in the initial hours, he said. In 'Bhejji 1' polling station, where last time only one vote was cast, 72 people had voted so far this time, Meena told PTI.
According to sources, Naxals have punished many tribals and villagers who were trying to raise awareness for voting in their areas. A woman from the Madia tribe who belongs to Kirandul was beaten black and blue when she attended the rally of Rahul Gandhi in Bastar on 9 November. She had come to attend Rahul's rally after someone told her that she will be given some jewellery for attending it but she did not get that also. She was beaten in front of her family and other tribals. However, no police complaint has been filed in the case so far. Meanwhile, the local police in Bastar is saying that such incidents also took place in Dantewada, Sukma and few more areas on Sunday.
There are several seats where the BJP has repeated its candidate, compounding the anti-incumbency. In Dongargarh, for example, The BJP has fielded Sarojini Banjare from the Dongargarh seat again. However, local residents believe that a new candidate would have stood a chance at negating the sentiment.
The Congress, on the other hand, has fielded a new face, Bhuvneshwar Baghel, replacing Dhanesh Patila, who lost the previous three elections from Dongargarh.
Ajit Jogi told Firstpost on Sunday, that his main target is BJP. But he has promised a few things in his manifesto that is identical to the Congress, like the MSP for paddy at Rs 2,500 and more local jobs. He said the farmers are worse off under Narendra Modi and Raman Singh. His close aides off the record said they would prefer a post-poll alliance with Congress, provided Jogi gets the chief ministership.
Close to zero voting recorded at several booths in Dantewada till 10 am. Aranpur-01, Nahadi-0, Jabeli-03, Kikripara-0, Potali-0, Nilavaya-0, Dokapara-0, Purengel-0. Voter turnout till 11 am: Mohla Manpur 37%, Rajnandgaon 15%. Overall, 16.24% voter turnout has been recorded so far in the first phase of polls.
What has kept Raman Singh so far in the game is his policy of providing rice at Re 1 per kg. In some of the poorer constituencies of the state, voters say it has kept them alive, even as their lives have otherwise not been alleviated.
However, in a last-ditch attempt to woo its voters, Raman Singh has distributed mobile phones to them. But it is unlikely to make an impact. Voters say they need jobs, not freebies.
The authorities are having a tough time in bringing out the voters in the Lohandiguda block which falls under the Chitrakoot Vidhan Sabha. Lohandiguda is the same area where the land of tribals was acquired forcefully to set up a Tata Steel plant but Tata had to back out from the project due to protests by tribal. Ever since then, tribals have not received agricultural benefits of the government for farming on their own land.
Recently, Congress President Rahul Gandhi promised the tribal that he will get their land rights back to them in ten working days and will not allow any corporate to acquire the land.
Outside the tribal areas, the major crop in Chhattisgarh is rice, which requires a lot of water. Farmers have said that the irrigation facilities are in shambles, and they can’t cultivate rice if the monsoon deserts the region. Paddy’s MSP of Rs 1,750 is also inadequate, and the Congress is trying to galvanise the sentiment by promising Rs 2,500 MSP for rice. One of the things that are going against Raman Singh is that he had not declared bonus for paddy farmers for two years.
Senior Congress leader and party in charge of Chhattisgarh, PL Punia has alleged that the state machinery has planned massive rigging at polling booths in remote areas of the Maoist affected districts.
Chief Minister Raman Singh urges people of Chhattisgarh to vote in large numbers Singh said that the vote of citizens is the biggest strength of the nation.
In 2013, 68 polling stations tallied at 0 votes, and more than 80 booth recorded less than 20 votes, largely due to Maoist threats. That number is likely to go down. A sort of a generation gap may be unfolding between the voters and non-voters and the younger generation knows the importance of schools, hospitals, roads and connectivity. Therefore, they are more likely to defy the "dadalog", as Maoists are called in the region.
The BJP government’s decision to reduce MSPs on forest produce has had an adverse impact as well. Lac (a resin used in varnishes), mahua seeds (a source of soap-nut oil) and flowers (used to make alcohol) and Sal (Shorea-robusta) are some of the minor forest products, whose MSPs have been slashed dramatically by the state. This has endangered the livelihoods of the tribals.
There is a strong undercurrent for change on the ground, in spite of the Ajit Jogi factor. It is driven by farm crisis, Raman Singh’s policies towards tribal areas, and growing joblessness.
While the younger generation is not as staunchly opposed to industries as their parents might be, they clearly say they don’t trust the state and corporations to carry out fair rehabilitation and compensation policy. Even a seats like Jagdalpur, which the BJP has not lost since Chhattisgarh was formed, is headed for a close finish.
Besides its opponents, the BJP is also battling anti-incumbency. The Congress has said that Raman's yatras were an attempt to take the focus away from real issues like corruption.
The BJP, however, said that Congress does not pose a threat to it. Dharamlal Kaushik, president of BJP in Chhattisgarh, said, "Congress was once a national party but it is now a regional party. In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, it is hanging on to other parties. It is no threat to us. We will form the government for the fourth time as well. We will win 65 seats this time."
Chhattisgarh elections are different from other Assembly elections in the sense that the voters in the state are driven by local issues and not "national" issues. The issues of Ram Mandir and Urban Naxals find little resonance here.
10.7% voter turnout recorded till 10 am in the first phase of polling, ANI reported. meanwhile, CRPF Bomb disposal squad are in the process of defusing the IED detected in Konta. Polling is underway at a makeshift booth under a tree.
Precious voting hours were lost at some booths in Bijapur on Monday morning. Voting could begin only at 8.18 am at polling booth No. 107 in Bijapur and by 8.25 am at polling booth No. 108. Voters had to wait for a good hour and a half before the process started at these booths.
Reports of EVM malfunctioning have come in from Kanker-Talakurra in Bhanupratappur, where the electorate is angry over stalled voting. Glitches are being reported in at least 15% EVMs across Kondagaon district.
53 polling stations out of the total of 4,336 reported a delay in the start to the polling process due to technical reasons. However, all polling stations have reported smooth polling with long queues see outside them, the Election Commission told ANI.
Polling booths have been shifted to makeshift tents under trees after polling staff found IEDs and Naxal uniforms at polling booths in Lakhapal and Chintalnar areas of Sukma district.
Total 18% voter turnout recorded in Rajanandgaon's Mohala Manpur till 9.30 am. Among the voters, 18% were women and 19% were male voters.
Congress candidate and sitting MLA from Dantewada Devati Karma cast her vote early morning at Faraspal booth near her home. Devati Karma is wife of Late Mahendra Karma of Congress who was killed in a Maoist attack while campaigning before 2013 assembly elections. His son Chaveendra Karma had also come under a Naxal attack few days ago while campaigning for the Congress party.
Increased Maoist action during elections has been a trend in Chhattisgarh, which is gaining a more radical dimension this time around, with several incidents of attacks on security forces and party workers and candidates. In their attempt to create an atmosphere of fear, the Naxals have conducted many big and small operations over last few months.
A special selfie zone has been created for voters in parts of the Rajnandgoan district to take selfies and send it to Election Commission of India. Authorities have announced that the five best selfies will win a prize.
Early voter turnout was seen in this constituency which is among the highly sensitive areas and has witnessed several Maoist attacks. Voters in Manjhipara of Bijapur wait for the voting process to begin at a polling station in Manjhipara of Bijapur where EVM glitch delayed polling by over 20 minutes.
It is in Maoist-hit Bastar that BJP is eyeing boosting its seat tally. Of the 12 Assembly seats in Bastar, Congress occupies eight. Modi has focused on Bastar in two of his tours while Raman kicked off the 'Lok Suraj Abhiyaan' and the 'Vikas Yatra' from Bastar division.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi also held rallies in Bastar. He set up a special team to prepare a report card of Congress MLAs from eight seats. Congress is also eyeing 20 Assembly seats in Raipur division, 15 of which are occupied by the BJP, while the Congress has four. One seat is held by an Independent candidate.
According to ANI, voting has stopped due to a technical problem in the EVM at the pink polling booth in Kamla College, in Rajnandgaon's Sangwari. Voting, however, resumed later.
"Polling is being held in 18 constituencies of Chhattisgarh today, they are the Left-wing extremism affected area. Polls being held in two phases to provide special security in these 18 constituencies. These 18 areas are kept in first phase so that paramilitary forces remain fresh, Chief Election Officer (CEC) OP Rawat told ANI. "Nearly 900 polling personnel have been air-dropped from helicopters so that they can reach safely. Over 16,500 polling personnel went by-road. I think all will be in a position to deliver peaceful elections," he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday tweeted to ask voters in Chhattisgarh to show enthusiasm and participate in the electoral process with full force.
At least 201 polling centres - 40 in Sukma, 76 in Bijapur, 18 in Narayanpur, 21 in Dantewada, 28 in Kanker, 12 in Rajnandgaon, two in Jagadalpur and four in Kondagaon - have been shifted from highly sensitive area fearing Maoist attacks, Chief Electoral Officer Subrato Sahu said.
The IED triggered by Naxals on the Tumakpal-Nayanar road at around 5. 30 am was to target security forces. No harm to security forces and the polling party has been done and party safely reached to the Nayanar polling booth No. 183 under PS Katekalyan, Devnath, AIG (Anti-Naxal Ops). told ANI.
In Chhattisgarh, where the BJP has enjoyed a 15-year rule, the party is faced with a double whammy of anti-incumbency and a likely pre-poll Congress-BSP alliance. The BJP is hoping its development agenda will help woo tribals in Maoist-affected Bastar region, which has 12 Assembly seats where the party was able to win only four seats in the last Assembly elections.
Among the prominent candidates who will try their electoral luck are Chief Minister Raman Singh, state ministers Kedar Kashyap (Narayanpur) and Mahesh Gagda (Bijpaur), as well as BJPs Kanker Lok Sabha MP Vikram Usendi (Antagarh). In the first phase, the prestige of nine sitting Congress MLAs -Manoj Singh Mandavi (Bhanupratappur), Mohan Lal Markam (Kondagaon), Lakheshwar Baghel (Bastar), Deepak Kumar Baij (Chitrakot), Devati Karma (Dantewada), Kawasi Lakhma (Konta), Girwar Janghel (Khairagarh), Santram Netam (Keshkal) and Daleshwar Sahu (Dongargaon) is at stake. Of the 18 seats going to polling in the first phase, 12 are reserved for Scheduled Tribe (ST) while one is for Scheduled Caste (SC) category.
The Naxals are hell bent in executing their warning — to force people boycott elections in Chhattisgarh. And to achieve their goal, they seem willing to go to any extent. Besides giving poll boycott calls, the Naxals warned locals to stay away from accompanying police and security forces or face dire consequences. In one of their threats, they cautioned that they would detonate public vehicles if shared by cops
Voting began in 10 out of 18 Assembly constituencies in the first phase of Chhattisgarh elections on Monday under a tight security blanket comprising over 1.25 lakh police and paramilitary personnel. In the first phase, 190 candidates are in the fray and as per electoral rolls, there are 31,80,014 voters. Women voters outnumber men for the first phase of polling, with 16,22,492 female voters on the rolls against 15,57,435 men. There are 87 third gender voters as well.
The Chhattisgarh administration and state has taken several measures to facilitate as many voters as possible. Fifty drones and 1,000 satellite trackers are being used in Bastar and at least 60,000 additional security forces have been deployed.
A Sangwari Polling Centres in Dantewada set up for women are also guarded by women force. image courtesy: Hitesh Sharma/101Reporters
Dongargarh is considered one of the crucial constituencies in Chhattisgarh. It has been overshadowed by the incessant focus on the Rajnandgaon seat, from where Raman Singh is up against Atal Bihari Vajpayee's niece, Karuna Shukla, who is contesting the Assembly polls on a Congress ticket.
Amid threats of Maoist violence, 18 of the 90 constituencies in Chhattisgarh will go to the polls on Monday to elect a new Assembly in the first phase of a battle in which the Congress is desperate to end 15 years of BJP rule.
Under the leadership of Raman Singh in the last 15 years, Adivasi land and forests have been opened up for commercial exploitation to the private players, resulting in widespread displacement, measly compensation, and exploitation and pollution of resources. The tribals of Bastar are commonly fighting battles, like the one in Chitrakoot.
In the poll-bound state’s insurgency-hit Bastar division, Bhima and 46 other farmers in villages around the Bacheli mining township have lost at least two to five acres of land and are suffering reduced crop production due to iron ore sludge pollution.
The election, widely seen as a 'semi-final' ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, will also see a formidable third factor in an alliance stitched by Mayawati's BSP with the Chhattisgarh Janata Congress Chhattisgarh of former chief minister Ajit Jogi and the CPI.
A total of 190 candidates are in the fray in the 18 constituencies spread over eight districts, where Maoists have been active for over a quarter century.
Chief Minister Raman Singh is vying for a fourth consecutive term, and his main opponent is BJP-turned-Congress leader Karuna Shukla, a niece of late prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In the high stakes battle in Chhattisgarh, Shukla, a former BJP Lok Sabha member, has taken on Raman Singh at his home turf Rajnandgaon.
The other constituencies that will see voting are Khairagarh, Dongargarh, Dongargaon, Khujji, Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Bastar, Jagdalpur, Chitrakot, Dantewada, Bijapur and Konta.
Twelve of them are in the insurgency-hit Bastar region of Chhattisgarh and six in Rajnandgaon district.
A total of 4,336 polling booths have been set up for the first phase of the state polls. There are 31,79,520 voters, including 16,21,839 males, 15,57,592 females and 89 of the third gender.
Nearly one lakh security personnel, including paramilitary forces, have been deployed across Chhattisgarh for the first phase. These are in addition to the existing paramilitary personnel and 200 companies of state forces engaged in anti-Maoist operations in the tribal-dominated state. Indian Air Force and BSF choppers have also been pressed into service.
The Maoists, who have asked people to boycott the Chhattisgarh elections, have triggered several attacks in the last few days killing several people including a BSF trooper on Sunday.
The campaign, which ended on Saturday, saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath raising the pitch for the saffron party.
Leading his party's charge, Congress president Rahul Gandhi attacked the BJP over corruption, agrarian distress and unemployment in Chhattisgarh.
The second phase of the Chhattisgarh election will be held on 20 November, and the votes will be counted on 11 December along with the Assembly polls of Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Rajasthan.