18 constituencies go to the polls in first phase

On Monday, 12 constituencies of south Chhattisgarh’s seven districts and six constituencies in Rajnandgaon are going to polls. In 2008, the BJP won 15 of the 18 seats, catapulting the party to power, while across the State, the Congress got almost as many seats as the ruling party.

This time, some 140 candidates, 10% of whom have criminal records, are contesting. The main contenders are the BJP, the Congress and the CPI. Several independent candidates, mostly rebels, are in the fray too. Nearly 30 lakh electors will choose their MLAs in the first phase. Polling in 12 constituencies will end at 3 p.m.

Nearly 600 companies of additional forces, from both central paramilitaries and forces from other States, have been deployed in a bid to ensure peaceful polling. Over 150 helicopter sorties have been arranged to drop and pick up polling parties in helicopters. The helicopters will operate from 10 distribution centres and cover 339 polling booths in seven districts. Polling parties started two days before the polls from Jagdalpur for the local base station from where they will be transported to the booths by security forces, officials told The Hindu.

On Sunday, the police produced the Maoist commander of south Bastar, Badru, before the media in Dantewada, saying he surrendered the previous day.

Two ITBP personnel injured in blast

PTI adds:

Two ITBP personnel were injured in an IED blast in Rajnandgaon district. “The incident occurred Sunday afternoon near Baldongri village, located around 125 km from Rajnandgaon district headquarters, when a polling party was heading for its destination,” said Rajnandgaon SP Sanjeev Shukla. The polling party was on its way to Baldongri when the low-intensity blast was set off near a rivulet. “The jawans were provided primary treatment at a local health centre and are being brought to Rajnangdaon,” he said. The polling staff reached their destination safely.