Voting began amid tight security for 7 Lok Sabha seats of Chhattisgarh in the third and final phase of elections today wherein around 1.18 crore voters will decide the fate of 153 candidates, including Union minister Charandas Mahant and BJP state unit president Vishnudeo Sai.
Polling got underway in Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur, Janjgir-Champa (SC), Raigarh (ST), Surguja and Korba Lok Sabha seats at 7 AM and will conclude at 6 PM in the evening, an election official told PTI.
Out of total 1,18,10,256 voters, 60,31,735 are men and 57,72,750 women, while 1340 voters belonged to "others" category and 4,431 are service voters.
Among 153 candidates in the fray, fifteen are women, with 22 candidates belonging to recognised national political parties. A total of 14,474 polling booths have been set up for 7 constituencies in which 71,679 employees have been involved, the officer said, adding that 3,283 booths are critical. These parliamentary constituencies are spread across 14 districts of the State, covering 58 assembly seats.
As many as 200 web cameras (for web casting), 350 video cameras and 6000 digital camera are installed at polling stations to monitor the polling process, according to the officer.
Besides, 15,921 EVMs have been set up to record the votes, he said.
Although security has been tightened across all these constituencies, extra precaution is taken in some naxal-affected pockets of Surguja Lok Sabha seat adjoining Odisha and Jharkhand. Mahant, the sitting MP of Congress from Korba seat and Union Minister of state for Agriculture and Food Processing, is facing BJP's Banshilal Mahto in a tough contest. Korba's neighbouring Raigarh (ST) seat is also in the spotlight for a direct fight between BJP's state unit chief and sitting MP Vishnu Deo Sai and Congress's Aarti Singh.
In high-profile Raipur seat, six-time MP and BJP nominee Ramesh Bais is pitted against Congress MLA Satyanarayan Sharma.