Raipur: Voting for the byelections to Dantewada Assembly constituency began on Monday, September 23 morning. The elections were necessitated due to the death of BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi in a Naxal attack in April this year.
1,88,263 voters including 89,747 men and 98,876 women, are eligible to cast their vote in the constituency with 273 polling stations.
Polling began at 7 am today and it is set to last till 3 pm. The counting of votes will be taken up on September 27.
This was the only constituency in Bastar division that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) managed to win in last year’s Assembly election.
Significantly, both the Congress and BJP have fielded as candidates widows of party leaders killed by Maoists. The Congress has fielded Devati Karma, whose husband Mahendra Karma was killed by the Naxalites in the Jhiram massacre. Many top Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh were killed in a Maoist landmine blast in Jhiram in 2013.
The BJP has nominated Ojasvi Mandavi, the widow Bhima Mandavi whose death in a Maoist attack on April 9 has caused the Dantewada by-election. Maoists had attacked the convoy of the BJP leader by triggering an improvised explosive device (IED) during the Lok Sabha elections. Besides Mandavi, five security personnel were also killed in the attack.
The other candidates are Hemant Poyam (Bahujan Samaj Party), Sujit Karma (Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J)), Bhimsen Mandavi (Communist Party of India), Ajay Nag (Nationalist Congress Party), Ballu Ram Bhawani (Aam Aadmi Party), Yogesh Markam (Gondwana Gantantra Party) and Independent Sudru Ram Kunjam.
In the 90-member state Assembly, the Congress won 68 seats last year and the BJP 15. The Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) and the BSP had bagged five and two seats respectively.