Nearly 70 percent polling in Chhattisgarh assembly by-poll


Raipur : Nearly 70 percent polling was recorded Friday in the Bhatgaon assembly constituency by-election in Chhattisgarh’s Surguja district, according to preliminary reports.

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The polling was peaceful except minor disruptions at a few polling centres, election officials said.

A total of 233 polling booths were set up for roughly 175,000 voters in the constituency which is considered prestigious for the state’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that won the seat comfortably in the last polls in November 2008.

The BJP, which has 47 seats in a 90-member state assembly, is desperate to retain the seat which fell vacant following the death of its sitting legislator Ravi Shankar Tripathi, 55, in a car crash in April.

The saffron party has fielded the late leader’s wife Rajni Tripathi while the Congress has picked U.S. Singhdeo of the erstwhile royal family of Surguja as its candidate.

An election official said the final polling figure could surge to 78 percent after reports from all polling centres are compiled.

Reports from interiors of the constituency, some 400 km from Raipur, said women came out in larger numbers than males to cast their votes.

Chief Minister Raman Singh announced that the BJP was fighting the election on the issue of development. The Congress, meanwhile, was seeking votes against a government that was ‘mired in corruption and scandals’ since it came to power in December 2003 dislodging the Ajit Jogi-led Congress regime.

The Congress has 39 members in the state assembly and needs to wrest the seat from the BJP to narrow the margin with the ruling party as by-election for one more seat – Balod – in Durg district is set to be held soon following the death of the BJP’s sitting legislator Madanlal Sahu late in August.

The election result for Bhatgaon seat will be announced Oct 4.