Raipur : Voting will start early in insurgency-hit Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region that has witnessed about 1,100 killings since 2004 as the Election Commission is concerned about the safety of the polling teams, an official said Saturday.
Polling will begin at 7 a.m. and will conclude at 3 p.m. for the 12 assembly segments in Bastar region, Alok Shukla, the state’s chief election officer, told IANS.
Out of 90 seats in Chhattisgarh, 39 will go to the polls Nov 14 while voting in the remaining 51 seats will take place Nov 20.
“The decision to start polling early in Bastar is taken in view of insurgency problems with a basic thought to ensure the polling teams sent in interiors return on the same day safely,” said Shukla.
He said the poll timing for the other seats, outside the Bastar region, will remain unchanged – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The changed voting timing will be effective for seats including Dantewada, Konta, Bijapur, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Bastar, Jagdalpur, Chitrakot, Narayanpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur and Kanker.
Officials say the change in poll timing is guided by the fact that polling teams would be airlifted for the Nov 14 election duty at dozens of hyper-sensitive booths in thick forested Bastar interiors and they need extra timing after polling ends to move away from Maoist dominated areas before sunset.
A total of 383 candidates are left in the fray for 39 seats going to polls in the first phase.
The first phase poll will decide fate of Chief Minister Raman Singh from Rajnandgaon seat, Congress candidate and leader of the opposition Mahendra Karma from Dantewada, assembly speaker Premprakash Pandey from Bhilai and senior minister Hemchand Yadav from Durg city.