Chhattisgarh Assembly Election 2018: 71.93% polling, faulty EVMs and missing names from voter lists mark phase two

101Reporters Desk | Nov 19, 2018 | 5 min read


CG polls: Despite faulty EVMs halting voting for hours across districts, EC registers high turnout in final phase

Team 101Reporters

Raipur: If the Raman Singh government fails to come back to power for a fourth consecutive term, it would largely be because of the condition of life in villages like Chhatrang, Pal Kevra and Ghuidih, where, according to the polling officials, not a single vote was cast until 5pm on Tuesday. The three villages had called for a boycott of election in unison through a panchayat which decided a fine of Rs 1 lakh for anyone choosing to vote and a punishment of filling water at every home of the village for the next five years.

These villages apart, the rest of the state witnessed healthy participation of electorate, including the six districts affected by Left Wing Extremism, taking the voter turnout in second phase of polls to 71.93% till 6pm, which was expected to go higher, EC officials said. This confidence of the EC officials of a higher turnout despite wide scale reports of polling hours lost due to faulty EVMs coming in from across all districts that saw voting on Tuesday.

The voter turnout in second phase of 2013 assembly polls on 72 seats was 74.7%. The turnout in first phase of assembly polls this time was updated to 76.28% from 70% by the EC a day after the polls were conducted on 12 November. CEO Chhattisgarh had on the evening of 12 November released a press note that calculated the voter turnout until 6pm at 18 constituencies at 60.49%.

Chhatrang, Pal Kevra and Ghuidih come under Surajpur district, which is 66km away on a strenuous path through hills and jungles, and this journey is unavoidable for villagers wanting to engage with government schemes and avail benefits. For all other requirements, these villagers access Sonhat tehsil in Koriya district, which is 24km away and well connected by a road. Their demands regarding road connectivity and delimiting under Koriya district have gone in vain, they say. The status of other basic amenities like water and electricity is also dismal, the protesting villagers have claimed.

Jwala Pratap Singh, a resident of Pal Kevra, said the three Panchayats got together to boycott the polls as no development work has been done in their area. “There is no road, no water or electricity. To access banking services, we spend entire days going to the Block, but return without any money most of the time,” he added.   

Second phase of polling for 72 seats of the Chhattisgarh assembly was largely peaceful and saw youths, women and elderly coming out in large numbers to vote on Tuesday, making the democratic exercise a successful one, except for recurring reports of malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPATs, which left the voters waiting in queue for hours across the 19 districts where voting was scheduled. Glitches in voting apparatus and resulting delay were reported from polling booths in Sarguja, Jashpur, Korba, Surajpur, Janjgir-Champa, Balrampur, Mahasamund, Raipur, Durg, Balodabazaar and Kawardha among other places. Voters complained they had been waiting for the machines to be repaired or replaced for over two hours at some booths. District Electoral Officer and Korba collector Md Kaisar Abdul Haq was also among those waiting for the EVM to be repaired at booth no 127 in his district.

Chief electoral officer, Chhattisgarh, Subrat Sahu, said 114 Ballot Units, 89 Control Units and 314 VVPATs were replaced without delay during the second phase. He also informed that polling booth no. 36- Chandrapur and polling booth no. 217- Bangrel in Janjgir-Champa district and polling booth no. 20- Jamunapali in Korba district reported zero percent voting.

The EC had also instructed polling officials to deposit mobile phones of electors outside the booths as there had been reports of people clicking pictures of their VVPAT slips to get money from party workers for voting in their favour. An FIR was registered against two voters for posting their pictures of their VVPAT slips on social media in Premnagar and Raipur rural ACs, according to the CEO office.

Chhattisgarh Congress in-charge P L Punia on Tuesday led a party delegation to the Election Commission alleging violation of election norms by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the assembly polls. In a memorandum submitted with the EC, the All India Congress Committee apprised the EC that the BJP candidate from Samri, Siddhanath Paikra, had been caught on Monday night with Rs 2 lakh cash, but no due action was taken against him, apart from another incident where three EVMs were found at the house of Ved Prakash Mishra, a headmaster of a government school, in Chirmiri, Koriya district. “BJP is losing badly and hence they are using these dirty tricks,” Punia said.

Congress’ Silchar MP Sushmita Dev, who was part of the Congress delegation that approached EC, said the EC assured them that action will be taken on their complaints. “The question is are we seeing a bias being played out by the authorities who are managing the election in Chhattisgarh tilting towards the BJP? It is disgraceful, but I can tell you one thing that these are reactions to the fact that the people of Chhattisgarh are with the Congress party and they have complete faith in our manifesto,” Dev said.

Leader of opposition in Chhattisgarh assembly, T S Singh Deo, claimed, “More than 10% EVMs seem to be faulty. One or two EVM glitch is admissible, but huge number of complaints create a doubt.”

Ruling out these allegations, incumbent CM Raman Singh said, ”Congress alleges EVM for their defeat. They are searching reasons of their failure from now onwards.”

Former CM and Janata Congress Chhattisgarh chief Ajit Jogi, however, had his own complaint with the Congress workers, who he alleged had created a confusion among electorate by publicising “Vote for Jogi on Panja (Open Palm symbol of INC)”. This might dwindle JCC’s lead as their election symbol was farmers with a plough, Jogi said.


-With inputs from Vandana Agrawal, Saurabh Sharma, Neeraj Agrawal

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