Voters, mainly from insurgency-hit forested villages in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar Lok Sabha constituency, on Thursday defied the Maoists’ boycott call to exercise their franchise as polling ended with an estimated over 50 per cent turnout.
Maoists exploded bombs in Narayanpur, Konta, and Bijapur areas in early hours of polling to scare away voters, but their efforts did not seem to work.
A total of seven candidates are in the fray for the Bastar seat, won by the Bharatiya Janata Party in the last six parliamentary elections, but the main contest is between BJP’s Baiduram Kashyap and Deepak Baij of the Congress.
Female voters outnumbered men in the interior areas where polling began at a brisk pace while urban and semi-urban areas witnessed sluggish polling.
The Election Commission had thrown a security cordon at all the 1,880 polling centres in Bastar to allow 13,77,946 electors a terror-free atmosphere to cast their votes.
Dozens of polling parties were airlifted to polling booths in outlying forested stretches, deemed to be Maoist bastions, by choppers and polling there was scheduled between 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. so that election teams could be brought back to safer places before sunset.
The polling came two days after the brutal killing of Bhima Mandavi, the BJP legislator from Dantewada assembly seat – a part of Bastar Lok Sabha constituency – on Tuesday.