Voting begins in Chhattisgarh for Chitrakot bypoll

As many as 916 polling personnel have been deployed at these booths, he said, adding that around 70 booths have been categorised as 'hyper-sensitive' and 93 as 'sensitive'. Photo/Twitter (All India Radio News)

Voting for the bypoll to Naxal-affected Chitrakot Assembly constituency in Chhattisgarh began on Monday morning amid heavy security.

Six candidates are in the fray from the seat, reserved for Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates, where the by-election was necessitated after Congress MLA Deepak Baij got elected to the Lok Sabha from Bastar parliamentary constituency.

Polling began at 8 am and will end at 5 pm, an election official said.

A total of 229 polling booths have been set up for the bypoll -- 213 in Bastar district and 16 in the neighbouring Sukma district, he said.

As many as 916 polling personnel have been deployed at these booths, he said, adding that around 70 booths have been categorised as 'hyper-sensitive' and 93 as 'sensitive'.

As many as 1,67,911 people, including 79,284 men, 88,626 men and one from the third gender, are eligible to cast their votes, he added.

Around 8,000 personnel, including paramilitary forces, have been deployed while drones are also being used to keep an eye on the Chitrakot Assembly segment, which is part of the insurgency-hit Bastar region, a police official said.

The main contest is between the Congress and the BJP.

The Congress has fielded a new face, Rajman Benzam, a local tribal leader and president of the Bastar district Congress (rural), while the BJP has given a ticket to former MLA Lachhuram Kashyap.

Besides, Bomda Mandavi of the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J), Hidmo Ram Mandavi of the Communist Party of India (CPI), Lakheshwar Kawasi of the Ambedkarite Party of India and Independent Ritika Karma are also in the fray.

During the 2018 state Assembly elections, Congress' Deepak Baij defeated BJP's Lachhuram Kahyap by 17,770 votes.

In the state polls held last year for the 90-member Assembly, the Congress won 68 seats and the BJP bagged 15.

The Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) won five and two seats, respectively.

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