Bhopal, April 29 (IANS) Madhya Pradesh recorded a voter turnout of 57 per cent till 5.30 p.m. in six out of the 29 parliamentary seats which went to the polls in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections — the first in the state — on Monday, as per official data received here.
The six Lok Sabha seats in the Vindhya and Mahakoshal region where polling was held on on Monday were Sidhi, Shahdol, Jabalpur, Mandla, Balaghat and Chhindwara. In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had won five of the six seats.
Barring the Maoist-affected Baiher, Lanji and Paraswada Assembly segments under the Balaghat parliamentary constituency, polling elsewhere was conducted from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. In the affected areas, polling was held between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The by-elections for the Chhindwara Assembly seat, which has been lying vacant since Congress MLA Deepak Saxena’s resignation, was also held on Monday. Chief Minister Kamal Nath, who must get elected as an Assembly member within six months of assuming office, is in the fray from here. The BJP has fielded former Youth Congress activist Vivek Sahu (Bunty) against the Chief Minister.
Three government employees, including a woman, died in separate incidents in the last 48 hours while they were on poll duty, state Chief Electoral Officer V.L. Kantha Rao said.
Sunanda Kotekar (50), who was deployed at the Lodhikheda polling booth in Saunsar segment of Chhindwara, died of cardiac arrest even before she could be provided medical assistance.
In another incident, an Assistant Sub-Inspector died after suffering a heart attack in Sidhi district, while another person succumbed to brain hemorrhage in Seoni in Balaghat Lok Sabha constituency on Sunday evening, Rao said.
In Balaghat, Maoists allegedly set an SUV on fire, which belonged to Kishore Samrite, an Independent candidate. Samrite claimed that he was held hostage before being let off.
In 2014, the BJP had won 27 out of the 29 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The Congress later reclaimed the Ratlam seat in a by-election, taking its tally to three. Congress veteran Kamal Nath had won from his bastion Chhindwara in 2014, where his son Nakul Nath is the party candidate this time.
While the success in the Assembly elections held last year has boosted Congress’ confidence, the BJP is banking on the Narendra Modi wave. As if to drive home the point, the BJP workers went around all the constituencies distributing leaflets listing the Modi government’s achievements, including the post-Pulwama show of might.
It may be mentioned here that the Election Commission has barred all political parties from using the armed forces’ valour for electoral promotions.