A voter turnout of 64.68 per cent was registered till 5 pm in the third and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday covering seven seats where polling was by and large peaceful amid heavy presence of security personnel. Also Read - COVID-19: Centre, States Discuss Fresh Spurt in Cases; Nationwide Lockdown on Cards Again?

Initially, a low turnout was witnessed at the polling booths, but as the day progressed, people came out in large numbers to exercise their franchise braving scorching heat, an election official said. Also Read - Chhattisgarh Shocker: Woman Beaten to Death by Son's Friend For Resisting Rape Attempt

“An estimated 64.68 per cent voting has been recorded till 5 pm. The final turnout figure may go up as we are still compiling the data,” the official said. Also Read - Travel Guidelines For Delhi: Tourists Arriving From These States Need to Furnish a Negative COVID-19 Report

Queues of voters were seen at several booths even after the 5 pm deadline in the Lok Sabha constituencies covered under the third and last phase of polling – Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur, Korba, Janjgir-Champa (SC), Surguja (ST) and Raigarh (ST), he added.

The turnout was 55.29 per cent till 3 pm, up from 30 per cent till noon and 12 per cent till 9:30 am, the official said.

Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Ramvichar Netam and former Assembly speaker Gaurishankar Agrawal, among other prominent leaders, cast their votes in the state.

In many places, newly married couples, in wedding attire, reached polling booths to exercise their franchise, the poll official said.

As many as 123 candidates are in the fray in the seven seats where the main fight is between the ruling Congress and the BJP, which lost power in last year’s state polls.

Altogether 1,27,13,816 voters – 64,16,252 men, 62,96,992 women and 572 members of the third gender – were eligible to exercise their franchise in the seven seats, where a total 15,408 polling booths were set up, the official said.

Raipur and Bilaspur seats have the maximum number of candidates (25 each) followed by Durg-21, Jangir-Champa-15, Raigarh-14, Korba-13 and Surguja-10.

Around 60,000 security personnel consisting of state and paramilitary forces were deployed for smooth conduct of voting.

No major incident of violence was reported from anywhere in the constituencies that voted in the third phase.

Chhattisgarh has a total of 11 Lok Sabha seats.

In the 2004, 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha polls held after the formation of Chhattisgarh in November 2000, the BJP won 10 of the 11 seats every time.

This time, the Congress, buoyed by its victory in the Assembly elections last year, is hoping to improve its tally in the state.

Voting for the 11 Lok Sabha seats in the state was scheduled in three phases.

The Naxal-hit Bastar (ST) constituency went to the polls in the first phase on April 11, while voting in three other seats – Rajanandgaon, Kanker (ST) and Mahasamund – was held in the second phase on April 18.