Raipur: Polling for Bhatgaon assembly seat in Chhattisgarh`s Surguja district began on a dull note at 8 a.m. Friday but women were seen lined up in large numbers for voting.
Women voters number roughly 85,000 in the constituency that is located in extreme north of the state and is some 400 km from Raipur. There are 12 candidates for the seat and close to 1,75,000 voters will cast their votes.
Election officials said polling began peacefully at 233 polling booths for the constituency which is considered prestigious for the state`s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that won the seat comfortably in the last polls held in November 2008.
The BJP, which has 47 seats in a 90-member state assembly, is desperate to retain the seat which fell vacant following the death of its sitting legislator Ravi Shankar Tripathi, 55, in a car crash in April. The saffron party has fielded the late leader`s wife Rajni Tripathi while the Congress has picked U.S. Singhdeo of the erstwhile royal family of Surguja as its candidate.
Chief Minister Raman Singh announced that the BJP was fighting the election on the issue of development while the Congress was seeking votes against a government that was `mired in corruption and scandals` since it came to power in December 2003 dislodging Ajit Jogi-led Congress regime.
The Congress has 39 members in the state assembly and it needs to wrest the seat from the BJP to narrow the margin with the ruling party as by-election for one more seat - Balod - in Durg district is set to be held soon following the death of the BJP`s sitting legislator Madanlal Sahu late in August month.
The election result for Bhatgaon seat will be announced Oct 4.