Jagdalpur: 2:10 pm: The encounter between Naxals and security forces that continued for over 5 hours in Kanker has ended.
12:55 pm: There has been no voter turnout in 42 polling booths in Sukma. Here polling booths are located inside security camps.
11:55 am: The Chhattisgarh DGP has said that 15 to 20 IEDs have been found in Sukma, Kanker, Dantewada and Narayanpur while 13 per cent voting has been recorded till 11 am.
11:42 am: The voting percentage recorded in Chhattisgarh till 11 am is 13 per cent.
10:55 am: Voting for the first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly polls in 18 constituencies of Naxal-hit Bastar region and Rajnandgaon district has begun on a slow note with 10 per cent electorate exercising their franchise in the first few hours, amid a bomb attack by Naxals in Kanker district that left a policeman injured.
9:30 am: The encounter between security forces and the Naxals in Kanker is still on amidst polling in the state.
9:16 am: There are reports of clashes between Congress and BJP workers from Jagdalpur. Congress candidate Samu Kashyap has now alleged that supporters of BJP leader Santosh Bafna attacked him on Sunday night. He has alleged that he and his supporters were beaten with sticks and threatened to leave politics.
8:52 am: A police personnel has been injured after the pressure bomb laid by Naxals exploded in Kanker as polling was underway, police said. The incident took place when the jawan was removing the bomb, placed beneath the earth, for defusing near Parlakot village (PV 97) under Bande police station limits, Kanker Additional Superintendent of Police CD Tandon told PTI.
After administering first aid to the injured security personnel at a local health centre, he was brought to district headquarter, he said.
8:04 am: Even as polling has begun in Chhattisgarh, a low intensity IED blast has just been reported from Kanker. No casualties have been reported so far. With the Naxal threat looming large, there is heavy security in place, with over 1,24,000 personnel deployed.
Chhattisgarh is the first state to exercise the newly introduced None Of The Above (NOTA) option in the elections in the entire country. When the electorate in 18 Assembly seats vote, they can press the NOTA button if they don't want to vote for any of the candidates in the fray.
The Election Commission of India introduced the option of negative vote (NOTA) after a recent Supreme Court order.
The voters in the Maoist strongholds of Bastar area can express their displeasure by pressing the NOTA button, if they feel that none in the contest is eligible to become their MLA.
However, the NOTA will have no impact on the outcome of the polls. Even if more than 50 per cent of the voters opt for the negative voting, it will not change the result or prevent a candidate from winning.
As usual, the candidate who gets the maximum votes among all other candidates in the fray will be declared the winner.
But the introduction of NOTA is being seen as a first major step towards sweeping electoral reforms in the country. Many feel that it will make the candidates work harder to keep the faith of voters. Others argue that the mere introduction of NOTA makes no difference to 'corrupt' electoral system, unless they count it and if 50 per cent of the voters opt for NOTA, then it should be treated as a rejection of all candidates.
Neither the Supreme Court nor the Election Commission has any right to amend the Constitution; Parliament will have to take that decision.
According to the reports not many voters in the 18 Assembly seats, which go to polls on Monday are interested in exercising this option.
Chhattisgarh goes to vote
The 18 Assembly constituencies which have gone to polls on Monday are one of most militarised zones in the World. More than 1,43,000 security personnel have been deployed in the 8 districts, which have a total of 18 Assembly seats. The threat of Maoist attacks has forced the Election Commission to make elaborate security arrangements in the Bastar region.
There are 143 candidates including 10 female candidates in the fray. Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh who is seeking a third straight term as the Chief Minister is contesting from Rajnandagoan. He is facing Alka Mudaliar, the widow Congress leader Uday Mudaliar who was killed in a Maoist attack in May 2013.
Kawasi Lakma of the Congress, who is seeking a fourth straight term from Konta is the opposition candidate to watch out for. After the assassination of leader of opposition Mahendra Karma in the Maoist ambush, Lakma has emerged as the strongest leader of the party in Bastar.
Manish Kunjam of the CPI is also another important candidate whose fate will be decided by the voters on Monday.
The slain leader Mahendra Karma's wife Devati Karma is contesting from Dantewada on Congress ticket. Her son feels that the sympathy wave will help her.
Both the BJP and the Congress are expressing fears that the rebel candidates may spoil the party in both camps. The Congress leader and former chief minister Ajit Jogi is also one of the main factors in the polls.
In the 2008 Assembly polls, the voting was minimal in the Maoist hotbed of Dantewada, Bijapur and Konta. Political parties fear that voting percentage may not touch even 50 per cent in many constituencies due to Naxal threat.
Number of constituencies going to polls - 18
Number of districts going to polls - 8
Number of candidates - 143 including 10 female candidates
Total number of eligible voters - 29, 33,200
Number of polling booths - 4074
Sensitive booths - 903
Hyper-sensitive booths - 1072
Number of hyper-sensitive booths shifted due to threat - 169
255 polling staff airlifted to their booths due to Maoist threat
Number of security personnel deployed - More than 1,43,000. It includes 30-33 battalions of central forces and 600 companies of paramilitary forces)
Over 25,000 Chhattisgarh police personnel have also been deployed.
The ratio is 1 security personnel for 21 voters, making it the most highly policed polls
There are 5 crorepati candidates including Raman Singh with declared assets worth Rs 5.61 crore.
The richest in the fray is Mohan Lal Markam of the Congress from Kondagaon.
(With additional information from PTI)
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