AIZWAL, RAIPUR: Mizoram saw a voter turnout of 78.40 per cent in the single-phase election for 40 Assembly seats in the state while the polling percentage was 71.93 per cent for 20 Assembly constituencies in Chhattisgarh which went to polls in the first phase of elections in the state on Tuesday.
The voter turnout is expected to go up in the final count, Election Commission officials said with data from postal ballots also to be counted.
Mizoram had seen nearly 80 per cent voter turnout in the 2018 election. The first phase of Chhattisgarh polls in 2018, held in 18 constituencies, saw a voter turnout of 76.42 per cent.
According to latest data from the poll panel, Khairagarh-Chhuyikhadangandayi Assembly constituency in Chhattisgarh recorded the highest voter turnout of 76.31 per cent, closely followed by Mohla-Manpur-Ambagarh Chouki at 76 per cent. The lowest polling percentage was recorded in Bijapur at 40.98 per cent. It was 75.51 per cent in Uttar Bastar Kanker, 75.35 per cent in Kondagaon, 75.1 per cent in Rajnandgaon and 72.41 per cent in Bastar (Jagdalpur).
An Election Commission release said that advance planning and extensive monitoring by the Commission comprising Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar with Election Commissioners Anup Chandra Pandey and Arun Goel ensured “free, fair and largely peaceful conduct of elections in Mizoram and Chhattisgarh”.
The Election Commission set up 5,304 polling booths for the first phase in Chhattisgarh. New polling stations were set in 126 villages in Bastar division for the first time, making it easy for the voters in these villages as they no longer had to endure long treks through dense forests, hills, rivers and braving the threats posed by Left Wing Extremist (LWE) to exercise their franchise. The new polling stations were consistent with ECI norms which aim to ensure that no voter has to move beyond a radius of two km to vote.
Of these 126 booths, 15 were located in Kanker AC, 12 in Antagarh, five in Bhanupratapur, 20 in Konta, 14 in Chitrakot, four in Jagdalpur, one in Bastar, 13 in Kondagaon, 19 in Keshkal, nine in Narayanpur, eight in Dantewada and six in Bijapur Assembly Constituency.
In Chhattisgarh, the polling started at 7 am for ten seats — Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur and Konta. Voting for the remaining Assembly constituencies — Pandaria, Kawardha, Khairagarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji, Bastar, Jagdalpur, and Chitrakote began at 8 am.
In Mizoram, Serchhip seat reported a voter turnout of 84.78 per cent, Mamit 84.23 per cent, Hnahthial 84.16 per cent, Kolasib 82.77 per cent and Khawazawl 82.39 per cent. The polling started at 7 am for the 40-member state Assembly elections.
The release said that in a big stride towards inclusivity and accessibility, 320 all-women-managed polling stations, 31 PwD-managed polling stations and 140 model polling stations were used in Mizoram and Chhattisgarh. In Kanker, Chhattisgarh, in a novel initiative, a Rainbow Model Polling Station was set up in the Pakhanjur area “which is inhabited by the highest number of voters in the third gender category”.
The release said home voting facility was introduced for the first time in the Assembly elections in both states to senior citizens over the age of 80 years and PwD voters with 40 per cent benchmark disability.
In spite of the home voting facility, many of them chose to show up at the polling station to cast their vote.
The release said 8,52,088 voters were registered in Mizoram while 40,78,680 voters had registered in phase I of the elections in Chhattisgarh.
The poll panel had set up 1,276 polling stations in Mizoram. A total of 174 candidates were in the fray in Mizoram and 223 in Chhattisgarh.
The polling in Chhattisgarh will decide the electoral fate of former Chief Minister Raman Singh and BJP leaders Bhawna Bohra, Lata Usendi and Gautam Uike. The prominent Congress leaders in the fray in this phase include Mohammad Akbar, Savitri Manoj Mandavi, Mohan Markam, Vikram Mandavi and Kawasi Lakhma.
In Mizoram, Chief Minister Zoramthanga, who is chief of Mizo National Front, is seeking re-election from Aizawl East – I. Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) chief Lalduhoma, a former IPS officer, who is also the party’s chief ministerial candidate, is in the fray from Serchhip.
In the 2018 Assembly elections, the Mizo National Front (MNF) secured 26 seats with a vote share of 37.8 per cent and ousted Congress from power. The Mizo National Front, Indian National Congress and the Zoram People’s Movement have fielded candidates for all 40 seats and BJP has fielded 23 candidates.
Voting in the remaining 70 seats in Chhattisgarh will be held on November 17. Counting of votes will be taken up on December 3 in Mizoram and Chhattisgarh along with three other states. (ANI)