Chhattisgarh’s second phase polling: BJP highlights scams, Congress emphasises schemes

| Updated: 17 November, 2023 2:02 pm IST
Voting is underway across 18,833 booths in Chhattisgarh. (TNI Archive image)

KOLKATA: Chhattisgarh is witnessing the culmination of its high-stakes second and final phase of polling today, determining the fate of prominent candidates such as CM Bhupesh Baghel, Deputy CM T.S. Singh Deo, and BJP State President Arun Sao. Voting is underway across 18,833 booths in Chhattisgarh.

As per the latest data from the Election Commission of India (ECI), Chhattisgarh has recorded a voter turnout of 19.67 per cent until 11 am. However, this phase’s turnout is currently lower than the first phase, where the percentage at the same time was higher at 22.97 per cent.

In the previous two-phase Assembly poll in 2018, the Congress party had secured a significant victory by winning 17 out of 20 seats in the first phase. This time, the electoral landscape is shaped by issues like the alleged “Mahadev betting app scam,” recruitment scandals, and the persistent Naxalism challenge, with the BJP targeting the present state government, particularly on these fronts during their campaign.

Political analysts point out that the anti-incumbency factor against the then-BJP government played a crucial role in the 2018 Chhattisgarh Assembly polls. The Congress Party’s manifesto, which emphasised fair pricing for paddy farming, further influenced the electoral outcome.

In 2023, amidst alleged scams, the ruling Congress party’s manifesto emphasises a loan waiver and free education. The Baghel government’s welfare schemes for women, tribals, and Dalits have garnered positive attention.

During the second phase of polling in 2018, Chhattisgarh witnessed a voter turnout of 76.62 per cent. It remains to be seen whether this year’s polling will surpass or lag behind the 2018 figures.

In the 2018 Assembly elections, Congress secured a majority by winning 68 out of 90 seats, defeating the Raman Singh-led BJP government.

A total of 109 vulnerable and 1,670 critical polling stations have been identified across both phases. To monitor the voting percentage, the ECI has deployed an additional 1,962 sector officers who will report every two hours to their respective returning officers.

With 958 candidates in the fray, voting in all remaining 70 constituencies commenced at 8 am and will continue until 5 pm. However, in nine polling stations in Maoist-affected areas, the polling started an hour earlier at 7 am and will conclude at 3 pm, as per the ECI.

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