Raipur: Voting today began for 72 constituencies of 19 districts for the second and last phase of the Chhattisgarh Assembly election here amid high security.
A total of 843 candidates are contesting with an electorate of 1,39,75,470 in the last of the two-phase polls to the 90-member Assembly in the state where BJP government led by Chief Minister Raman Singh is eyeing for a hat-trick against the Congress.
"The polling in 72 constituencies of 19 districts has begun from 8 AM and will conclude at 5 PM," an official at the Chief Electoral Office said.
Over one lakh security force personnel have been deployed across the state to ensure peaceful polling, he said.
The polling will take place in central and north Chhattisgarh, where 72 each from the BJP, and Congress, are in the fray. There are 75 women contestants. Maximum number of candidates are fielded in Raipur city south constituency where 38 nominees are in the fray, while least number of candidates is in Saraipali-5.
The fate of state Assembly speaker Dharamlal Kaushik (Bilha constituency) and nine ministers- Home Minister Nanki Ram Kanwar (Rampur seat), School Education Minister Brijmohan Agrawal (Raipur city south), Housing and Environment Minister Rajesh Munat (Raipur city west), Health Minister Amar Agrawal (Bilaspur), Water Resources Minister Ramvichar Netam (Ramanujganj) and Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Hemchand Yadav (Durg city), Agriculture Minister Chandrashekhar Sahu (Abhanpur), Punnulal Mohile (Mungeli) and Revenue and Rehabilitation minister Dayaldas Baghel (Nawagarh)-, state President of BJP Ramsewak Paikra (Pratappur) besides the leader of opposition Ravindra Choubey (Saja), wife of the former chief minister Ajit Jogi, Renu Jogi (Kota) will be decided in this phase.
Apart from that, the son of late PCC chief Nandkumar Patel, Umesh Patel (Kharsiya) and Ajit Jogi's son Amit Jogi (Marwahi) are also in the fray in the second phase.
Meanwhile security forces have been directed to stay alert in some districts of Sarguja division and Raipur division, located on inter-state border, where frequent movement of naxals had been witnessed.
According to police, naxals may create some trouble in Mahasamund, Gariyaband and Dhamtari of Raipur division bordering Odisha and Jashpur, Raigarh and Ambikapur in north Chhattisgarh during polling process.
Of the total number of candidates, 71,39,631 are men, 68,30,179 women and 5660 are service voters, while of the total 72 seats, 17 are reserved for Scheduled Tribe and 9 are reserved for Scheduled caste.
A total of 18015 polling booths have been set up for the second phase, of which 4594 are sensitive booths, while 1398 are hyper-sensitive stations.
As many as 20957 ballot units and 18015 control unit will be used in this phase. In 11 constituencies- Kota, Lormi, Takhatpur, Beltara, Chandrapur, Kasdol, Raipur city south, Durg city, Bhilai Nagar, Vaishali Nagar, Bemetara more than one ballot unit will be used.
Three ballot units will be placed only in Raipur city south. Besides, 3000 cameras will be used for monitoring during polling process, he said. Around 80,000 officials have been involved for conducting poll on November 19.
A record 75.53 per cent voting was registered in the first phase of polling held on Nov 11 for 18 constituencies of naxal affected Bastar division and Rajnandgaon district. Counting will take place on December 8.