New Delhi: A voter turnout of  71.93 per cent was recorded till 6 PM in the second and last phase of elections in Chhattisgarh, which covered almost 19 Assembly segments. Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha said the polling percentage is likely to rise further as a number of people were still in the queue for voting. The highest turnout was reportedly recorded in Bindranawagarh and Baikunthpur.

“Today’s election was peaceful and incident-free as elaborate security arrangements were made. A number of old voters, including those over 100 years of age, also exercised their franchise and the Commission had made arrangements for them,” he added.

The EVM malfunctioning was reported from several booths across Dhamtari, Jashpur, Raipur, Ambikapur, Khallari, Raigarh Patan, Sihawa and Korba, with the Congress accusing the state’s ruling BJP of “electoral malpractices” and “attempting to disrupt” the poll process.

However, the poll panel rejected the allegations of widespread malfunctioning of the voting machines and asserted that faulty EVMs were promptly replaced without any disruption to the voting process.

A total of 1,079 candidates were in the fray, with both the Congress and the BJP contesting all the 72 seats.  The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has contested 25 seats and its ally and former Chief Minister Jogi’s Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (J) in 46 seats.  The Aam Aadmi Party fielded candidates in 66 constituencies in the state where the BJP is in power since 2003.  An electorate of over 1.5 crore, including over 77 lakh male and over 76 lakh female voters, were eligible to vote.

Among the prominent faces in the fray in the phase for the Congress were Baghel (Patan), Leader of Opposition in the Assembly T.S. Singh Deo (Ambikapur) and former Union Minister Charandas Mahant (Shakti). For the BJP, the list included state ministers Brijmohan Agrawal (Raipur City South), Rajesh Munat (Raipur City West), Amar Agrawal (Bilaspur), Prem Prakash Pandey (Bhilai Nagar).

For the alliance, Jogi contested from Marwahi, his wife Renu Jogi from Kota, and his daughter-in-law Richa Jogi, a BSP nominee from the Akaltara seat.

The state had recorded 76.28 per cent polling in the first phase of elections held on November 12. The highest polling percentage was recorded in Dongargaon (85.15), followed by Khujji (84.48), Khairagarh (84.31), Bastar (83.51), Kondagaon (82.84), Dongargarh (82.53), Keshkal (81.32), Chitrakot (80.31), Mohla-Manpur (80), Rajnandgaon (78.66), Kanker (78.54) Jagdalpur (78.24), Bhanupratappur (76.77), Antagarh (74.45), Narayanpur (74.40), Dantewada (60.62), Konta (55.30) and Bijapur47.35 per cent.