The assembly elections in five states are set to kick-off on Tuesday, November 7 with Chhattisgarh and Mizoram first in line, as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana wait to vote.
The month-long election drive in these states is being touted as a 'semi-final' before the showdown in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. National political parties especially the likes of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress will get a chance to look at where they stand before the general elections.
The Mizoram People’s Forum (MPF), a voluntary election watchdog, on Tuesday expressed happiness that the elections were conducted without any untoward incident.
The MPF, a church-led voluntary group, has since 2006 worked to ensure that elections in Mizoram are free no money power is used.
Mizoram People Forum's chairman F Lallura said that the people were happy as the election was being conducted smoothly.
A voter turnout of over 69.86 per cent has been recorded till 3 pm, as per the Election Commission of India.
Congress leader and Chhattisgarh minister Mohammad Akbar on Tuesday visited a polling booth in Kawardha. He said, "We are fighting the elections on the basis of development and the work we have done from 2018 to 2023."
Bhanupratappur assembly constituency in Chhattisgarh recorded a voter turnout of 61.83 per cent, while Kanker recorded 68 per cent voter turnout. The voter turnout in Mohla-Manpur was 73 per cent. Antagarh saw a turnout of 65.67 per cent and in Keshkal, it was 60.11 per cent
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Tuesday said that the BJP has accepted defeat in the state and the central agencies will take a short break and return to raid again before the Lok Sabha elections.
Baghel said, "BJP has accepted its defeat as they are using agencies to target opposition leaders. They (ED, IT) will take a short break. After November 17, they will take a break. They also have families. Before Lok Sabha (elections), they will again return."
A total of 59.19% voter turnout was recorded till 3 pm in the first phase of polling for the assembly elections in Chhattisgarh.
On polling day, Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) candidate Lalnghinglova Hmar said that the biggest promise his party has made before the Mizoram electorate is a corruption-free government.
"If the biggest of all the promises is fulfilled then the rest will fall in line. The biggest promise from our side is that of a corruption-free government," Hmar said speaking to on voting day.
Mizoram additional chief electoral officer H Lianzela said polling has been "peaceful and there has been no law and order issue till now".
The ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), the main opposition Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) and Congress have fielded candidates in all the 40 seats. The BJP is contesting in 23 constituencies, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has nominated candidates in four assembly segments.
The Congress claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement of a five-year extension of the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana was a "blatant violation: of the model code of conduct as it was made as Chhattisgarh votes on Tuesday.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh took to X to say that the five-year extension is not only a recognition of the "Prime Minister's flailing image" but also of the deepening economic distress and financial pain.
He said, "A desperate Prime Minister announced a five-year extension of the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana in the midst of the Chhattisgarh election campaign. This is a blatant violation of the Model Code of Conduct. Will the @ECISVEEP take note and act?" Ramesh said."
"Now, it turns out that the Union Cabinet has not yet approved the extension. Actually, it is not surprising since this is how Mr. Modi functions. The Cabinet is a non-entity. First his announcement, then Cabinet approval. Recall, November 8 2016?" he further said.
A desperate Prime Minister announced a five-year extension of the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana in the midst of the Chhattisgarh election campaign. This is a blatant violation of the Model Code of Conduct. Will the @ECISVEEP take note and act?— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) November 7, 2023
Now, it turns out that the Union Cabinet… pic.twitter.com/YGmiiG2p7d
Mizoram saw 32.68 per cent voter turnout at 11 am as voting began in the northeastern state from 7 am on Tuesday, the Election Commission of India stated.
The voter turnout recorded at 9 am in the morning was 12.80 per cent. Voting for the 40-member assembly is set to go on till 3 pm. The counting of votes will take place on December 3.
Mizoram usually witnesses high voter turnouts. In 2018, the total voter turnout was 84.9 per cent with as many as 6,28,608 votes polled.
It may be noted that Mizoram is the only poll-bound state where the Congress and BJP are not the primary contenders.
Former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on Tuesday performed pooja at his residence as voting began in 20 assembly constituencies in the state including Rajnandgaon.
The BJP leader is looking to win from Rajnandgaon, the biggest town in the region and the district headquarters to which Singh is connected to for the last 25 years.
Raman Singh first made his mark in 1998 when he beat Congress and became a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet. Since 2008 he has fought assembly elections from Rajnandgaon and in 2018 defeated the Congress with a margin just short of 17,000 votes.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing an election rally in Chhattisgarh's Bishrampur slammed the Congress party stating that the party "committed scams in the name of Mahadev" referring to the Mahadev app scam which has become a top election issue in the state.
PM Modi said, "On one hand there is the BJP manifesto, on the other is the Congress's lies factory. Congress has never given you anything other than breaking promises, Congress sold dreams to the youth in Chhattisgarh, and what did the give? They committed scam even in the name of Mahadev."
"The Mahadev scam is being talked about in India and abroad, in order to fill their coffers Congress ensured your kids get into betting. Will you forgive them? And all this happened due to whose signal? Shouldn't he be punished?," the Prime Minister questioned.
He also hit out at the Congress for failing to contain Naxalism in Chhattisgarh and said whenever the party comes to power at the Centre, Naxalites and terrorists get emboldened.
The Mizoram state home department data shows that the northeastern state currently shelters 32,492 refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh and a further 11,991 internally displaced people from Manipur.
In the wake of the military junta in Myanmar, people took shelter in Mizoram in February 2021.
The Election Commission of India has reported a voter turnout of 26.97% in Chhattisgarh as of 11 am.
Government data reveals that the highest voter turnout was recorded in Kanker at 34.65%, followed by 32.5% in Kondagaon, 28.84% in Antagarh, 27% in Mohla Manpur, 23.21% in Khairagarh, 23.21% in Kawardha, 25% in Khujji, 18.36% in Jagdalpur, and 19.97% in Bastar. The lowest voter turnout was observed in Bijapur at 9.11%.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Chhattisgarh today to deliver a speech at a rally ahead of the second phase of the assembly election.
A 101-year-old voter set an example as he cast his vote in the 24 Champhai South Assembly Constituency in Mizoram. Identified as Pu Rualhnudala, the centenarian came to vote along with his 86-year-old wife Pi Thanghleithluaii.
In another incident inducing inspiration, a 96-year-old visually challenged voter chose to physically cast his vote instead of going for postal ballot. He came to 1417 Saron Veng-II in Aizawl to cast his vote.
Following a brief technical glitch in the EVM, Mizoram CM Zoramthanga has now cast his vote in the Aizawl-North-II seat. He is contesting from the Aizawl East-I seat. He said, "I have cast vote and I visited half of my constituency as well. I believe that from the political atmosphere on polling day, MNF will be forming the government. In my constituency, we will get overwhelming support of voters."
Earlier today, the chief minister encountered a minor issue with an electronic voting machine, preventing him from casting his vote at 19-Aizawl Venglai-I YMA Hall polling station under Aizawl North-II assembly constituency.
The voter turnout in Mizoram polls stood at 12.8% as of 9 am, according to the Election Commission of India. In the first two hours of voting for the first phase of the Chhattisgarh Assembly election on Tuesday, 9.93% of voters exercised their franchise.
A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawan was injured in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast carried out by Maoists in the Sukma district of poll-bound Chhattisgarh, police said. The jawan injured in the explosion was deployed for election duty.
The incident took place near the dense forests of Tondamarka, a region infested by Maoists. A joint team comprising of CRPF and CoBRA 206th battalion was conducting an area domination operation from Tondamarka camp towards Elmagunda village to ensure security during the elections, reported PTI quoting senior police officials.
A member of the CoBRA 206th battalion, Inspector Shrikant accidentally triggered the IED planted by Maoists which resulted in an explosion that caused injuries to him, the report stated.
The area comes under the Konta assembly segment, one of the 20 constituencies that is voting in the first of two-phase of elections on Tuesday for the 90-member Chhattisgarh assembly. Several constituencies fall under the Maoist-affected Bastar division.
Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga encountered a minor issue with an electronic voting machine, preventing him from casting his vote during the early hours of the Mizoram assembly elections. He mentioned, "Because the machine was not working. I was waiting for some time. But since the machine could not work I said that I will visit my constituency and I will vote after the morning meet."
Voting has officially commenced for the 40-seat Mizoram assembly and the inaugural phase of the 90-seat Chhattisgarh assembly at 7 am. Today, 20 constituencies within Chhattisgarh are poised to exercise their right to vote in this pivotal democratic process.
A total of three people including two polling personnel and a Border Security Force (BSF) jawan were injured in an IED blast triggered by Naxalites in poll-bound Chhattisgarh on Monday.
The explosion that took place in the Kanker district of the state comes a day before the first phase of voting for the assembly polls, police said. The incident occurred at around 4 pm when four polling parties escorted by security personnel were heading to their respective polling stations under Chhotebethiya police station limits, a police official said.
He said that a joint team of BSF and district police had set out from Marbeda camp escorting the polling teams to Rengagondi polling station. The pressure IED exploded near Rengagondi left two polling personnel and a BSF jawan, identified as Chandraprakash Seval injured.
Those injured were rushed to Chhotebethiya hospital where they are receiving treatment. The rest of the polling teams safely reached the Rengagondi polling booth under the Antagarh assembly constituency. A search operation has been launched.
#WATCH | Mohla-Manpur-Ambagarh Chowki: On the tightened security ahead of the first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections tomorrow, District Collector S. Jaivardhan says, "All preparations are complete as far as security is concerned for the polling that will take place… pic.twitter.com/4jKFOVYlzp— ANI (@ANI) November 6, 2023
Voting will begin in Chhattisgarh for 20 seats in the first phase on Tuesday with officials stating that 25,249 personnel have been deployed. The voting will be held between 7 am and 3 pm in 10 seats - Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur and Konta.
BJP President JP Nadda played a traditional drum during his visit to Chhal, Raigarh in the poll-bound Chhattisgarh.
Mallikarjun Kharge, while addressing a rally in poll-bound Rajasthan on Monday targeted the BJP indirectly saying, "Only talks will not do anything...There should be food, jobs, and schools for learning...Nothing will happen in the country by slogans and giving good speeches."
Slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi further, the Congress president further said, "Before the PM goes on a poll campaign, he sends ED, Income Tax, and CBI.” He added, “PM Modi helping the rich after getting the votes of the poor; under him, the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer."
Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Monday said that the Congress comes to power by turning states into 'ATM of one family' and making fake guarantees.
He said, "Everyone knows about the Congress and corruption as witnessed during the UPA government. Within four months of the Congress government in Karnataka, ₹109 crore were found in the house of a contractor. Guarantees were not fulfilled but they started fulfilling their one motive - to make Karnataka an ATM."
Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal took a sly dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday following his announcement that his government will extend the free ration scheme for five years. Sibal targeted the PM saying that this was needed even after "10 years of Acche Din".
Sibal took to X to write, "Global Hunger Index, India ranked 111 out of 125 countries (October 13, 2023). India rejects ranking. Now PM: Extends PMGKA Yojana for another 5 years so that 'people don't go to sleep hungry'."
Ample security measures have been put in place in Chhattisgarh to ensure tight security as the state heads to the first phase of assembly elections on Tuesday. Over 600 polling booths in the sensitive Naxal-hit Bastar division will be under three-layered security cover.
According to information received, around 60,000 security personnel including 40,000 Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel and 20,000 state police personnel have been deployed for the smooth conduct of polls in Bastar division which as 12 assembly segments. The police said that members of the elite anti-Naxal unit CoBRA and women commandoes will also be a part of the security apparatus.