Monday’s elections to the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Vidan Sabha and the 40-member Mizoram Assembly were peaceful, barring a few minor incidents of violence reported from Madhya Pradesh.
The voter turnout was good, around 70.82 per cent in Madhya Pradesh compared to 69.28 per cent in the 2008 elections, and 81 per cent in the northeastern State.
Two deaths were reported from Madhya Pradesh. In Morena district, Bhura Kansana, a relative of Congress candidate Adal Singh Kansana of Sumawali, died after being shot in both legs by the BSF when he allegedly tried to loot an electronic voting machine. Abdul Wahab Khan, a poll official on deputation from the Excise Department, died while on duty in Ujjain district.
In the Kasrawad constituency, Congress worker Manas Ram and four others were injured as activists of that party and the BJP threw stones at each other. In all, more than 20 persons were injured in poll violence in the State.
Expressing satisfaction over the polling, an Election Commission official here said it was a record turnout in Madhya Pradesh and long queues outside polling booths were seen even after the scheduled hours of polling. In Bhopal, Chief Electoral officer Jaideep Govind told journalists that the Dhar police had registered an FIR against Women and Child Development Minister Ranjana Baghel, who is contesting from Manawar, for allegedly distributing money among voters.
The highest polling, 83.19 per cent, was recorded in Hoshangabad district, which has four Assembly seats. Jabalpur, with seven seats, saw the lowest turnout at 56.36 per cent. Around 68.91 per cent women turned up to vote.
Mr. Govind said re-polling might be ordered in one Rewa booth, where technical difficulties were experienced with an EVM, on receipt of a report from the returning officer.
In Lahar, a group, said to be from the Congress, clashed with workers, reportedly belonging to the BJP and the BSP in at least two places. In Sumawali, firing and stone throwing were reported at several locations as Congress and BSP workers clashed, as also mobs belonging to two castes.
At one polling booth, the Border Security Force fired upon a gang that was allegedly trying to loot EVMs. Two injured persons were sent to Gwalior for treatment.
VVPAT system debuts in Mizoram
In Mizoram, Chief Electoral Officer Ashwini Kumar told The Hindu that 10 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) systems, attached to EVMs, had to be replaced due to technical difficulties — five before the polling began and five during polling hours. The VVPAT system was used in 217 polling stations in 10 constituencies in Aizawl city. Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla expressed confidence that the ruling Congress would be back in power for a second consecutive term. After casting his vote with his wife Lal Riliani at the Zarkawt-II polling station in Aizawl, Mr. Thanhawla told journalists that the Congress would win the same number of seats as in 2008 — 32 — if not more. The Congress has put up candidates in all 40 constituencies, with the Chief Minister contesting from Serchhip and Hrangturzo.
(With inputs from Sushanta Talukdar and Pheroze L. Vincent)