Raipur, Nov 13 (PTI) The ruling BJP in Chhattisgarh has claimed the turnout in the first phase polling, which increased marginally from the last assembly election, was a sign that there was no anti-incumbency against its dispensation as propagated the opposition.

The turnout in the first phase assembly election in 18 seats on November 12 was recorded at 76.28 per cent, as compared to 75.79 per cent in the 2013 polls.

According to some BJP leaders, the turnout would have been much higher if there was a wave against the Raman Singh government, which has been in office in the Naxalism-affected state for the past 15 years.

The leaders feel the turnout was not as high as expected considering a major campaign by the Election Commission and elaborate security measures in the Naxalism-affected areas.

“EC measures to enhance voting and strong presence of security forces did not yield desired results…the overall voting per cent was little higher than last time and marginally lower in Naxalism-affected constituencies. This means there is no anti-incumbency prevailing in the state,” a senior BJP leader said Tuesday.

Exuding confidence, Chief Minister Raman Singh told PTI, “We will get good results in the first phase in comparison to 2013. We are hopeful of getting 14 out of the total 18 seats that went to polls in the first phase.” “Moreover, people in Naxalism-affected areas have turned out in large numbers to give befitting reply with ballots against the ultras’ bullets,” he said.

Rejecting the BJP’s claim, Congress leader T S Singhdeo said, “Last time we had won 12 out of 18 and this time we will get more seats as voting pattern was like last time only, which means status quo will prevail. But my ground report says it will be more than last time.” The state Congress communication department head said, “Raising of polling percentage from 62 last night to 76 leads to suspicion and the party will demand a probe into it…Our ground report is in favour of the Congress and people have come out in large numbers because of anti-incumbency.” The Election Commission, at a press conference in New Delhi Monday evening, had said 70 per cent turnout was recorded in phase one of Chhattisgarh polls. However, chief electoral officer Subrat Sahu had told reporters in Raipur later Monday that 60.49 per cent turnout was recorded, adding the figure may go up.

The poll panel revised the figure on Tuesday and said a voter turnout of 76.28 per cent was recorded in the first phase.

The voting percentage in 18 seats that went to polls on Monday was Khairagarh 84.31 per cent (84 in 2013), Dongargarh 82.53 (82.36), Rajnandgaon 78.66 (82.36), Dongargaon 85.15 (85), Khujji 84.48 (85), Mohla Manpur 80.00 (80.5), Antagarh 74.45 (77), Bhanupratappur 76.77 (79), Kanker 78.54 (79), Keshkal 81.32 (83), Kondagaon 82.84 (84.6), Narayanpur 74.40 (70), Bastar 83.51 (84.3), Jagdalpur 78.24 (73.6), Chitrakot 80.31 (79), Dantewada 60.62 (62), Bijapur 47.35 (45), and Konta 55.30 (48.36), according to final data provided by the state’s chief electoral officer.

The second phase of polling in 72 seats, out of the 90-member Assembly, would be held on November 20 and counting of votes would take place on December 11.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.