Bhopal, May 12 : As much as 64.35 per cent of a 1,44,41,448-strong electorate – including 67,40,371 women – exercised franchise 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 available at 2100 hrs were Bhopal 65.33, Rajgarh 73.45, Vidisha 70.80, Guna 67.69, Sagar 65.41, Gwalior 59.60, Bhind 53.09 and Morena 60.67. Polling was briefly halted after booth-capturing was attempted in Bhind District’s Jaitpura Gudha village. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras were damaged in Rawatpura area.
In Ater area, residents initially boycotted the democratic process at three villages to register a protest against water scarcity and other woes. In Sagar District a couple of persons were injured in an assault by groups. 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 polling 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 were 0700-1800 hrs and polling stations numbered 18,141. A total 138 candidates’ fate was sealed in EVMs. The state capital was the cynosure of all eyes as it witnessed saffron-clad first-timer Pragya Singh Thakur (Bharatiya Janata Party) on a high-profile collision course with Rajya Sabha Member and erstwhile chief minister Digvijaya Singh (Congress); Mr KP Yadav (BJP) tried his fortune against four-time MP Jyotiraditya Scindia (Cong) in Guna; Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar (BJP) was 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) fought Mr Shailendra Patel (Cong).
Principal contestants in Sagar were Mr Raj Bahadur Singh (BJP) and Mr Prabhu Singh Thakur (Cong), in Bhind (Scheduled Castes) Mrs Sandhya Rai (BJP) combatted youthful Devashish Jarariya (Cong), Mr Vivek Shejwalkar (BJP) was locked in combat with Mr Ashok Singh (Cong) in Gwalior and ‘defending’ MP Rodmal Nagar (BJP) contested 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 were on duty; as many as 45,053 security personnel including 85 companies of Central Armed Police Force and 30 of the State Armed Force were deployed; 446 Quick Response teams formed; 101 inter-state and 128 inter-district check posts sealed; in excess of 11,000 vehicles were utilised for transporting polling teams, sector officers and police. A total 4,024 critical centres were identified and more than 3,600 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.Chief Minister Kamal Nath expressed gratitude to the electorate for participating in the democratic exercise. (UNI)