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Maoist Violence Mars Poll Process In Chhatisgarh, Bihar

The third phase of general elections was marked by Maoist violence in Chhatisgarh and Bihar on Thursday (10 April). It was also marked by an impressive 64 per cent voter turnout for the seven seats in the coluntry's capital where BJP is seeking victory riding on 'Modi wave' and AAP and Congress posing a challenge by promising good governance and development. About 71 per cent of the 2.43 crore electorate exercised their franchise in 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in Kerala, where polling passed off on a peaceful note. About 56 per cent voting was reported in the ten Lok Sabha constituencies of Vidarbha region of Maharashtra till 5 pm today. 
 
Delhi Election Commission officials said around 64 per cent of 1.27 crore eligible voters exercised their franchise till 6 pm and the polling percentage may go up as thousands of people are still queuing up in various areas of the city even after the deadline for voting ended.
 
In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the overall voting percentage was recorded at 52.3 per cent, which had increased to 66 per cent in the 2013 Delhi assembly election in December last year.
 
The high-octane campaign for the polls saw BJP, AAP and Congress engaging in a close fight to win the seven seats -- considered prestigious due to political symbolism.
 
The prominent contenders in the fray include Union Ministers Kapil Sibal and Krishna Tirath, Delhi BJP chief Harsh Vardhan, Congress' Ajay Maken, Sandeep Dikshit, Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, journalist-turned- politician Ashutosh and BJP's Meenakshi Lekhi.
 
Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal were among the early voters.
 
The election results is likely to set the stage for possible assembly polls in the next few months. BJP may prefer going to assembly polls early if it puts up a good show in the Lok Sabha polls.
 
The Lok Sabha poll mandate will also reflect AAP's support base in Delhi amidst perceived disillusionment among middle-class voters who had helped the party to make a spectacular debut in assembly polls just five months ago.
 
Congress has also tried to regain its support base through a series of initiatives in the last four months following its crushing defeat in the assembly polls in which it got just 8 seats.
 
Bastar LS Poll: 47% Turnout Amid Firing, Explosives Seizure
A low voter turnout of 47 per cent was recorded in the insurgency-hit Bastar parliamentary seat of Chhattisgarh today, amid violence by Naxals, who had called for poll boycott, leaving a police personnel injured. Naxals ambushed a team of police personnel escorting a polling party when they were returning after conclusion of polling under Gadiras police station limits of Sukma district in south Chhattisgarh, injuring a state police constable, Sukma Additional Superintendent of Police Neeraj Chandrakar told PTI.
 
"The incident took place in the forests between Dhruwaras and Munga forests when the rebels triggered a pressure bomb blast followed by indiscriminate firing on security personnel," he said.
 
"A police constable - Raju Alami - was injured in the blast," he said, adding, the injured was being taken out of the forest.
 
Also, firing was reported near several polling booths and explosives were recovered from separate places in the tribal-dominated seat which went alone to polls in the first phase of parliamentary election in the state.
 
"As per information, around 47 per cent electorate exercised their franchise in Bastar parliamentary constituency," Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Kujur said.
 
Polling concluded at 3 PM in seven Assembly seats - Bastar, Chitrakot, Narayanpur, Bijapur, Konta, Kondagaon and Dantewada - of the region while Jagdalpur Assembly seat witnessed polling till 4 PM, he said.
 
Voting did not take place in Polampalli polling station of Konta region of Sukma district due to fault in EVM machine, he said.
 
A total of 26 EVMs were replaced during the electoral process in Bastar due to fault in these machines, he said.
 
"22 Electronic Voting Machines were replaced before polling, 3 during mock poll while one after voting was started," he said.
 
Earlier, the explosives - 15 IEDs, 10 kg each - were unearthed this morning by a joint patrol squad of Border Security Force and district force from Nelnar area of Narayanpur district.
 
Later, owing to security reasons, the Nelnar polling booth was shifted to a nearby place Akabeda, he said. 
 
Violence Hits Bihar On Poll Day, 2 CRPF Personnel Killed
Maoists detonated a landmine killing two CRPF jawans and injuring seven others before polling began today for six Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar.
 
The two CRPF personnel were killed and seven others injured in Haveli Kharagpur area of Munger district when they were on their way to polling stations of Jamui constituency.
 
Deputy Superintendent of Police, Khargpur, Ranjan Kumar told PTI that the men belonging to 131 CRPF battalion were travelling in two jeeps to Tarapur in the Maoist-affected district for poll duty in the early hours when the attack took place.
 
The Maoists first detonated an improvised explosive device and then fired on the CRPF personnel near Sawa Lakh Baba Mandir at the entrance of Bhimbandh jungle at around 5.30 am with the security personnel returning the fire.
 
The dead CRPF personnel were head constable Ravindra Rai and constable Sone Gora, Kumar said.
 
The seven injured were taken to the Bhagalpur hospital, from where four were flown by helicopter to Patna and admitted at a private hospital.
 
Principal Secretary Home Amir Subhani visited the injured security men and told them that their medical expenses would be borne by the state government.
 
A report from neighbouring Lakhisarai district quoting Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Singh said that the ultras bombed a government school in Narotampur which hosted CRPF personnel late last night, but there was no casualty as they had left by then.
 
A report from Maoist-hit Gaya district quoting Senior Superintendent of Police Nishant Kumar Tiwari said that the police seized and defused six can bombs weighing 30 kg each from Banke Bazar area in Imamganj Assembly segment, a part of Aurangabad Lok Sabha seat where polling was held during the day.
 
Maoists had earlier given a call for a poll boycott.
 
Lok Janashakti Party President Ram Vilas Paswan's son Chirag was in the fray from the Jamui parliamentary constituency against Bihar Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary of JD(U) and Sudhanshu Shekhar Bhaskar of RJD.
 
Voting ended at 4 pm in many Assembly segments of the six Lok Sabha seats in Maoist-hit areas. In other areas, electors exercised franchise till the scheduled 6 pm.
 
About 71% Cast Votes In Kerala
About 71 per cent of the 2.43 crore electorate exercised their franchise in 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in Kerala, where polling passed off on a peaceful note. The poll fate of 269 candidates was sealed in EVMs in the state, where the fight is between ruling Congress-led UDF and opposition CPI(M)-led LDF and BJP, which is desperately trying to shed its tag of the perennial loser. Authorities had made elaborate security arrangements in all 21,424 polling stations across the state, which witnessed brisk polling right from morning.
 
Maharashtra: 56% Polling In 10 LS Seats Till 5 Pm
About 56 per cent voting was reported in the ten Lok Sabha constituencies of Vidarbha region of Maharashtra till 5 pm today, Election Commission sources said.
 
The percentage is likely to go up as the polling was scheduled to end at 6 pm.
 
The constituency-wise percentages till 5 pm are as follows: Buldhana 53.86, Akola: 49.90, Amravati: 54.82, Wardha: 58.08, Ramtek: 50.00, Nagpur: 49.32, Bhandhara-gondiya: 58.60, Gadchiroli-Chimur: 61.00, Chandrapur: 55.80, Yavatmal- Washim: 49.46.
 
Today's elections would decide the fates of former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister Praful Patel (NCP), former minister of State Vilas Muttemwar (Congress) and Shivajirao Moghe (Congress), among others.
 
Amid tight security, the voting was mostly peaceful, even in the Naxal-affected Gadchiroli and parts of Bhandara and Gondia districts, authorities said.

 
(Agencies)
 


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