Bhopal: Encouraging voter turnout was witnessed as half a dozen parliamentary constituencies in Madhya Pradesh went for polling in the first phase of Lok Sabha polls for the state on Monday.
Chhindwara, the home turf of Chief Minister Kamal Nath saw the maximum turnout of 72.95 per cent voting till reports last came in. However, it was still around 6% less than the polling witnessed in 2014.
Sidhi, the home town of former Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh, saw polling of 57.32 per cent which was the least among the seats that went to polls in the first phase.
Besides, Shahdol witnessed 70.35 per cent voting, Jabalpur 64.05 per cent, Mandla 70.87 per cent and Balaghat 73.72 per cent.
It was an upward polling swing for Shahdol which had seen 62 per cent polling in 2014. Turn out also saw an increase in Jabalpur which in the last polls saw polling of 58.5 per cent.
The poll percentage also increased in Mandla which had seen 66.7 per cent voting last time while Balaghat also saw an increase in voter turnout as it has recorded around 68 per cent voting in 2014. Although Chhindwara witnessed the highest turnout in 2019, it still witnessed a poor turn out as compared to the 2014 polls when it saw over 79 per cent voting.
The overall poll percentage was 68.02% in the central Indian state despite the searing heat prevailing in most parts.
Those prominent among candidates include Nakul Nath, son of MP chief minister Kamal Nath, BJP state president Rakesh Singh, former Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh and union minister Faggan Singh Kulaste.
Officers in the Chief Electoral Officer of Madhya Pradesh’s office claimed that voting was still on at polling booths after the stipulated time of 6 pm so the voting percentage could be slightly more once the final figures arrive.
A total of 108 candidates were in the fray in the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha polls.
Polling was by and large peaceful but former Samajwadi Party candidate Kishore Samrite alleged that he was waylaid by the Naxalites who spared him but put on fire the SUV he was travelling in Lanjhi area of Balaghat.
CEO MP VL Kantha Rao had affirmed that Samrite was safe and he had accused Naxalites of torching his vehicle. Rao while speaking to the media in the afternoon stated that two villages in Sidhi district had boycotted polling but administrative officers had convinced them to cast their votes.
Trouble was reported from one polling booths where a crowd had gathered and BJP MP Riti Pathak barged into the booth only to face ugly opposition from the locals who chased her away from the polling booth.
When asked about the incident earlier in the day, the CEO MP VL Kantha Rao accepted that there was a crowd at the polling booth in Sidhi and MP Riti Pathak had gone there but it was nothing like booth capturing.
The CEO's office had conducted a mock poll wherein the poll officers were given to replace 57 ballot units, 56 control units and 147 VVPATs. During the polls today, 46 ballot units, 29 control units and 106 VVPAT units had to be replaced due to a technical glitch.