Bhopal, May 12 : Approximately 60 per cent turnout was recorded until 1700 hrs as exercise of franchise continued on Sunday amid tight security in Bhopal, Guna, Morena, Vidisha, Sagar, Bhind, Gwalior and Rajgarh parliamentary constituencies of Madhya Pradesh under the country’s penultimate and the state’s third phase in this general election.
Area-wise percentages are Bhopal about 60, Rajgarh 68, Vidisha 61, Guna 62, Sagar 60, Gwalior 56, Bhind 47 and Morena roughly 53.
Reports reaching here said that electors are evincing enthusiasm despite the weather and queues are observed at most polling centres though numbers thinned somewhat in the afternoon.
As a precautionary measure, the Bhind administration restricted the movement of many people – including Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Bahujan Samaj Party candidates besides legislators – after they cast their votes. Polling was briefly halted after booth-capturing was attempted in Jaitpura Gudha village. That was followed by a dispute between Congress workers and law enforcement authorities. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras were damaged in Rawatpura area. In Ater area, residents initially boycotted the democratic process within three villages to register a protest against water scarcity and other woes.
Bhopal Mayor Alok Sharma alleged to media that BJP polling agents were threatened by the brother of state Minister Arif Aqueel at Arif Nagar locality here. In Guna town, an official was placed under suspension after an electronic voting machine (EVM) was appropriated at his residence late Saturday. Squalls coming in from the direction of Rajasthan tousled tents at centres in Sheopur District’s rural areas and pandals collapsed at many places in Morena constituency.
“Of approximately 78,000 machines, 750 were replaced,” Chief Electoral Officer VL Kantha Rao told the press. The voting timings are 0700-1800 hrs; the 1,44,41,448-strong electorate includes 67,40,371 women and the polling stations number 18,141. A total 138 candidates’ fate is being sealed in EVMs, official sources said.
The state capital is the cynosure of all eyes as it is witnessing saffron-clad first-timer Pragya Singh Thakur (BJP) on a high-profile collision course with Rajya Sabha Member and erstwhile chief minister Digvijaya Singh (Congress); Mr KP Yadav (BJP) is trying his fortune against four-time MP Jyotiraditya Scindia (Cong) in Guna; Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar (BJP) is in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with former minister Ramniwas Rawat (Cong) in Morena while in Vidisha – where the outgoing four-time MP is External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj – Mr Ramakant Bhargav (BJP) is fighting Mr Shailendra Patel (Cong).
Principal contestants in Sagar are Mr Raj Bahadur Singh (BJP) and Mr Prabhu Singh Thakur (Cong), in Bhind (Scheduled Castes) Mrs Sandhya Rai (BJP) is combatting youthful Devashish Jarariya (Cong), Mr Vivek Shejwalkar (BJP) is locked in combat with Mr Ashok Singh (Cong) in Gwalior and ‘defending’ MP Rodmal Nagar (BJP) is contesting against Mrs Mona Sustani (Cong) in Rajgarh.
Ex-chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his family exercised their franchise at his native village Jait in Sehore District and BJP Vice President Prabhat Jha voted in Gwalior. Erstwhile chief election commissioner OP Rawat, Chief Secretary SR Mohanty and Mr Rao did likewise here. Director General of Police VK Singh and his kin also cast their votes. In Sagar District, relatives carried a 106-year-old on a charpoy to the polling centre.
More than 79,000 officials are on duty; as many as 45,053 security personnel including 85 companies of Central Armed Police Force and 30 of the State Armed Force have been deployed; 446 Quick Response teams formed; 101 inter-state and 128 inter-district check posts sealed; in excess of 11,000 vehicles are being utilised for transporting polling teams, sector officers and police. A total 4,024 critical centres were identified and more than 3,600 being monitored by webcasting / CCTV; 1,720 vulnerable areas were singled out and 3,096 suspicious persons pinpointed. Prohibitory action was taken against 2,273 persons; 1,48,616 licensed weapons deposited and 9,409 illegal ones seized. (UNI)