Bhopal, Apr 10 UNI | 4 months ago

More than 60 per cent of a 1.44 crore-strong electorate, including 69.12 lakh women, exercised their franchise in phase one today in nine parliamentary constituencies spread over 17 districts -- within Vindhya and Mahakoshal regions -- of Madhya Pradesh amid stray incidents of violence.

Mandla witnessed the highest turnout exceeding 65.50 per cent. The constituency-wise voting break-up includes Hoshangabad 64.79 per cent, Balaghat 62.50 per cent, Shahdol 60.44 per cent, Chhindwara 59.97 per cent, Sidhi 56.45 per cent, Rewa 53.46 per cent, Satna 52.88 per cent and Jabalpur 48.14 per cent.

The male and female voting percentages were 61.60 per cent and 57.15 per cent respectively.

''Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) malfunctioned at 18 places where they were replaced. At polling centre number 78 in Chhindwara District's Dhau village, voters initially boycotted polling in protest against general problems. They were pacified by the Sector Magistrate and the Assistant Returning Officer,'' Chief Electoral Officer Jaideep Govind told media here.

In Jabalpur Cantonment, voters boycotted polling over the road-laying issue but voting eventually did take place. Electors boycotted polling at Churhat and Patehara to protest against irregularities in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Likewise, voters at two places in Singrauli District's Chakaria village boycotted the election process over woes regarding power, water and roads. Polling was also boycotted in Mandla District's Nidhar village over compensation for crop damage.

The official voting time in these constituencies -- barring Balaghat's Paraswada, Lanji and Baihar -- was 0700-1800 hrs. The schedule was extended by an hour compared to previous elections in order to enhance voting percentage.

However, the official polling time was 0700-1600 hrs in Naxalism-affected Paraswada, Lanji and Baihar.

Among the total 118 candidates trying their fortune are Union Minister Kamal Nath (Chhindwara) and the Assembly's former leader of the opposition Ajay Singh (Satna).

The maximum number of nominees in a single constituency was 16 in Balaghat, while Hoshangabad has the least numbering eight.

Other figures are 14 each in Satna, Rewa, Sidhi and Shahdol; 15 in Jabalpur; 13 in Chhindwara and 10 in Mandla.

Tight security arrangements were in place within all the constituencies.

A total of 107 companies of the Central Armed Police Force, 48 of the Special Armed Force, 1,912 police officers, 13,533 head constables/constables, 8,936 Home Guard personnel and 16,591 special police officers were deployed.

Ten constituencies are scheduled to witness voting on April 17 and as many on April 24.

(Posted on 11-04-2014)