Amid reports of poll boycott at few polling stations due to various reasons including non—payment of wages under MNREGA, 36.81 per cent voters exercised their right to franchise in nine Lok Sabha seats under first phase of polling till 2 pm in Madhya Pradesh.

Voters boycotted polls in Sidhi district’s Churhat and Patera polling centres for not getting wages under rural employment guarantee scheme MNREGA, while in Singrauli district’s Chakaria village, people are not taking part in voting because of issues related to power, water and roads.

“We have received reports of poll boycott from these centres. Following this, concerned officials have reached the spot and are trying to persuade villagers to take part in electoral exercise,” Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Jaideep Govind told reporters.

Farmers in Mandla district’s Nidhar village also boycotted polls for not getting compensation for damage to their crops and concerned officials there also were trying to pacify them.

Meanwhile, a total of 36.81 per cent voters, including 37.82 per cent male and 33.77 per cent female, exercised their right to franchise, the CEO said.

The voting percentage in nine constituencies where polling is held under first phase is — Satna (36.04 per cent), Rewa (26.04), Sidhi (30.18), Shahdol (44.61), Jabalpur (31.38), Mandla (37.45), Balaghat (38.42), Chhindwara (43.67) and Hoshangabad (43.50), he added.

Prominent among those contesting in the first phase of polling in 9 constituencies, out of the 26 in the state, are Union minister and Congress stalwart Kamal Nath and late Arjun Singh’s son and MLA Ajay Singh.

While incumbent Nath is pitted against Choudhary Chandrabhan Singh of BJP in Chhindwara, Ajay Singh is taking on sitting BJP MP Ganesh Singh from Satna seat.

Other key contestants include former Attorney—general of Madhya Pradesh Vivek Tankha, who is in the race as a Congress nominee from Jabalpur constituency, where he is battling sitting MP Rakesh Singh of the BJP.

Voting will be held at 16,592 polling stations across these nine seats with 118 candidates in the fray.