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Counting of votes underway in Chhattisgarh assembly elections

Raipur, Dec 3 (PTI) Counting of votes in elections to the 90-member Chhattisgarh assembly got underway Sunday morning, with security personnel maintaining a strict vigil in counting centres in the state’s 33 districts, including those affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE), a poll official said.

The elections were held in two phases on November 7 and 17. Voter turnout stood at 76.31 per cent, which was slightly lower than the 76.88 per cent recorded in the 2018 polls.

“Counting of votes for all the 90 seats started at 8 am in 33 district headquarters. A three-layer security mechanism is in place at each counting centre,” Chhattisgarh Chief Electoral Officer Reena Kangale said.

“The counting of postal ballots began at 8 am. Half an hour after the postal ballots are counted, the process of counting votes from the EVMs will begin,” she said.

A total of 90 returning officers, 416 assistant returning officers, 4596 counting personnel and 1698 micro-observers have been appointed for carrying out the counting process smoothly, the official said.

In every counting hall, there are 14 tables arranged in rows of seven, except for Pandaria, Kawardha, Sarangarh, Bilaigarh, Kasdol and Bharatpur-Sonhat Assembly seats where 21 tables have been arranged, she said.

While Masturi and Jashpur constituencies will see 24 rounds of counting, Manendragarh and Bhilai Nagar constituencies will have 12 rounds of counting, the official said.

A total of 1,181 candidates are in the fray, including Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Deputy Chief Minister T S Singh Deo (both from Congress) and former CM Raman Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Patan seat, represented by Baghel, witnessed a triangular contest with BJP fielding the chief minister’s distant nephew and Lok Sabha MP Vijay Baghel.

Amit Jogi, Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) state president and son of former CM late Ajit Jogi, is also in the fray from Patan.

In Ambikapur constituency, the BJP fielded a fresh face, Rajesh Agrawal, against Deputy CM Singh Deo. Agrawal had joined the BJP after quitting the Congress ahead of Assembly polls in 2018.

Nine ministers, including Tamrdhwaj Sahu (Durg Rural constituency), Ravindra Choubey (Saja) and Kawasi Lakhma (Konta), state Assembly Speaker Charan Das Mahant (Sakti) and state unit chief and MP Deepak Baij (Chitrakot), were among the other prominent Congress candidates.

From the BJP, apart from Raman Singh, the other prominent candidates are state unit chief and MP Arun Sao (Lormi constituency), opposition leader Narayan Chandel (Janjgir-Champa), Union minister Renuka Singh (Bharatpur-Sonhat), MP Gomti Sai (Pathalgaon), former ministers Brijmohan Agrawal (Raipur South), Ajay Chandrakar (Kurud) and Punnulal Mohile (Mungeli).

Two former IAS officers OP Chaudhary (Raigarh) and Neelkanth Tekam (Keshkal) also contested on BJP tickets.

The Aam Aadmi Party fielded 53 candidates, including its Chhattisgarh unit president Komal Hupendi, who contested from Bhanupratappur seat.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Gondwana Ganatantra Party (GPP) formed an alliance to fight the polls.

While the main fight is between the ruling Congress and BJP, a three-way contest played out in several seats of the Bilaspur division where former CM Ajit Jogi’s party and the BSP have pockets of influence.

In the 2018 polls, the Congress swept the polls winning 68 seats, leaving the BJP, which had ruled since 2003, a distant second with 15 seats.

Exit polls have predicted a close contest between the Congress and the BJP, with the ruling party having a slight edge.

Of the 90 assembly seats in the state, 51 are in the general category, 10 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and 29 for Scheduled Tribes. PTI TKP BNM VT VT

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

Source: The Print

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