As many as six nominations, including from the Congress and the BSP, were filed Friday in Lok Sabha seats going to the polls in the first and second phases in Chhattisgarh. Polling will be held for the naxal-hit Bastar (ST) Lok Sabha constituency in the first phase on April 11 and for three seats - Kanker (ST), Rajnandgaon and Mahasamund - in the second phase on April 18.
The notification for the first phase was issued on March 18 and for the second phase on March 19. The remaining seven seats will vote in the third and final phase on April 23. "So far, six candidates have filed filed their nominations for the first and second phases of general elections and all of these were filed on Friday," Chief Electoral Officer Subrat Sahoo said in a statement here.
Congress candidate Dipak Baij and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) nominee Aaytu Ram Mandavi filed their nominations for the Bastar seat. The ruling Congress has pinned its hopes on Baij, a young tribal leader, to win Bastar. He is a second time MLA from the Chitrakot seat.
For the second phase, Congress candidate Biresh Thakur and BSPs Sube Singh Dhruva filed their nominations for the Kanker seat, Sahoo said. Similarly, Ambedkarite Party of India candidate Shekhuram Verma and National Democratic People's Front's nominee Shridhar Chandrakar field their papers from Rajnandgaon and Mahasamund seats, respectively, he added.
Candidates can file their nomination papers on all working days from 11 am to 3 pm till March 25 for the first phase and till March 26 for the second phase, Sahoo said. The remaining seven seats - Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur, Raigarh (ST), Korba, Janjgir-Champa (SC) and Surguja (ST) - will go to the polls in the last phase on April 23 for which notification will be issued on March 28, he added.
Altogether, 1,91,16,285 voters, including 94,38,463 women and 709 members of the third gender, are eligible to exercise their franchise in 11 seats, Sahoo said. The Bastar Lok Sabha constituency has 13,72,127 voters.
In the second phase, 48,95,719 voters are eligible to vote, while their number stood at 1,26,48,439 in the final phase, the CEO added. As many as 23,727 polling booths will be set up for all the three phases, he added.