The first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly polls, to be held on November 12, will see 190 candidates, including Chief Minister Raman Singh, in the fray for 18 seats.
Eighteen constituencies spread across eight Maoist-affected districts will go to polls in the first phase, a public relation officer of the office of state Chief Electoral Officer said today.
"As many as 421 candidates had filed their nominations for the first phase, but papers of only 231 aspirants were found valid in the scrutiny. Of them, 41 candidates withdrew their nominations, leaving 190 in the fray," he said.
The son of former leader of opposition late Mahendra Karma, Chhavindra Karma, who had filed his nomination as an independent candidate from Dantewada (ST) seat from where his mother Devti Karma is a Congress nominee, withdrew from the elections.
The first phase of voting will cover Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Bastar, Jagdalpur, Keshkal, Chitrakot, Dantewada, Bijapur, Konta, Khairagarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji and Mohla-Manpur seats.
A total of 30 candidates will be in the fray in Rajnandgaon constituency, while five candidates will fight it out in Bastar and Kondagaon seats each.
In Rajnandgaon, chief minister Raman Singh of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress candidate Karuna Shukla, niece of former Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, are in the fray.
The ruling BJP has fielded Mahesh Gagda (Bijapur), Kedar Kashyap (Narayanpur), sitting MLA Santosh Bafna (Jagdalpur), Sarojani Banjare (Dongargarh), Lata Usendi (Kondgaon), Subhau Kashyap (Bastar), Komal Janghel (Khairagarh), Bhima Mandavi (Dantewada) and Dhaniram Barse (Konta).
The Congress has renominated its nine sitting legislators -- Manoj Singh Mandavi (Bhanupratappur), Mohan Lal Markam (Kondagaon), Lakheshwar Baghel (Bastar), Deepak Kumar Baij (Chitrakot), Devati Karma (Dantewada), Kawasi Lakhma (Konta), Girwar Janghel (Khairagarh), Daleshwar Sahu (Dongargaon) and Santram Netam (Keshkal).
Of the 18 seats going to polls in the first phase, 12 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) while one is for Scheduled Caste (SC) category.
The ruling BJP had lost 12 of these 18 seats in the last polls in 2013.
In the last assembly polls, of the total 90 seats, BJP had won 49 seats, Congress 39, BSP 1 and Independent 1.
The remaining 72 constituencies will go to polls on November 20. The counting of the votes will be held on December 11.
A coalition between Mayawati-led BSP, former chief minister Ajit Jogi's JCC (J) and Communist Party of India (CPI) has added another dimension to the electoral politics of Chhattisgarh, which has always been dominated either by the BJP or the opposition Congress.
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