Amid reports of minor skirmishes between rival political party workers, the first phase of urban local body elections covering 11 municipal corporations, 36 civic councils and 86 nagar parishads on Wednesday saw an average 61 per cent voter turnout in 44 districts of Madhya Pradesh, an official said.
The polling figure was up to 5 pm and prominent voters included state BJP president VD Sharma, Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Jyotiraditya Scindia and senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh.
Seven persons were injured in a clash between Congress and BJP activists in Indore. Three major cities of the state – Bhopal, Gwalior and Indore – saw a voter turnout of 50.68 per cent, 74.80 per cent and 76 per cent, respectively.
The highest voting of 83.70 per cent was recorded in Ratlam, the official said, adding Ujjain also witnessed a high turnout of electors at 76.60 per cent.
The Congress and the BJP are main contenders in these polls.
“Barring minor incidents of skirmishes between rival party workers at some places, the polling was peaceful in the entire state,” the official said.
The final voting figure is likely to change after data compilation when all polling parties return to their bases, he said.
A report from Indore quoting eyewitnesses said the police cane-charged warring Congress and BJP workers under Heera Nagar police station limits.
Congress workers, including women, gheraoed the car of BJP’s ward 22’s corporator candidate Chandurao Shinde and challenged him to come out of the vehicle and also repeatedly hit the windscreens with slippers, the eyewitnesses said.
The workers broke the vehicle’s glass panes, but Shinde somehow managed to leave the place unhurt, they said.
Protesting the attack on Shinde’s car, BJP workers marched towards the Heera Nagar police station raising slogans against the Congress. Cops resorted to cane-charge to control the situation, the eyewitnesses said.
In another incident in Heera Nagar in Indore a few hours before the polling began, BJP and Congress workers clashed in Ward No. 20 (Khatipura), leading to minor injuries to seven members belonging to both parties, a police official said.
A Congress leader in Indore alleged when he opposed ”bogus” voting on a booth in the Chhatripura area, BJP MLA and former mayor Malini Gaud’s son Eklavya and his associates assaulted him.
Congressmen demanded registration of an FIR against Gaud, but cops said they will take appropriate action in the matter only after a probe.
Efforts to contact Gaud on the issue proved futile.
Meanwhile, a 102-year-old woman, Gaurabai Mandloi, set an example for others by exercising her franchise in the Kanadia area of Indore, the cleanest city of the country.
A poll officer in Bhopal said no untoward incident took place in the state capital during the polling.
Votes polled in the first phase will be counted on July 17.
While state BJP president Sharma cast his vote in a booth in Bhopal, Union ministers Tomar and Scindia exercised their franchise in Gwalior.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and his wife Amrita voted in Bhopal.
Singh, a former CM, claimed people have voted against the ”misrule” of the BJP government in the state.
Hitting out at the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, he said the recent rainfall has exposed tall claims of development made by the BJP dispensation.
He said in Bhopal, rains led to water-logging and also caused potholes, exposing poor quality of work.
“They only talk about ‘vikas’ (development), but they don’t have any relation with it,” the Congress veteran remarked.
The second and last phase of urban local body elections will take place on July 13 and votes will be counted on July 18.