Defying Maoist threats, over 70 per cent voted in 18 Maoist-affected Assembly constituencies of Chhattisgarh in the first phase, marking the start of five-state elections dubbed the 'semi-final' before the Lok Sabha battle next year.
BJP president Amit Shah said the ongoing Assembly elections were not ordinary polls, but "very important" for the country, as his party's win would lay a strong foundation for the Narendra Modi government's return to power in 2019 and making it "invincible" for a long time.
Nearly 38 per cent electorate cast their votes till 2 pm in 18 Assembly constituencies in the first phase of Chhattisgarh elections, a poll official said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the Congress, targeting its president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia, saying the party's "politics begins and ends with one family".
Around 23 per cent voter turnout was recorded till 12.30 pm in 18 Assembly constituencies in the first phase of Chhattisgarh elections. Voting in nine seats of Bastar division and one seat in Rajnandgaon district began at 7 am.
Polling in 18 assembly constituencies in the first phase of the Chhattisgarh elections began on a slow note with about 14 per cent of the electorate casting their votes in the first few hours, a poll official said.
Voting was underway in 18 Assembly constituencies in the first phase of the Chhattisgarh elections Monday during which an improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated by Naxals in Dantewada district.
Amid threats of Maoist violence, 18 of the 90 constituencies in Chhattisgarh will go to the polls on Monday to elect a new Assembly in the first phase of a battle in which the Congress is desperate to end 15 years of BJP rule.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) promised a corruption-free administration, prohibition and a loan waiver for farmers if elected to power in Chhattisgarh.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj lauded the Raman Singh-led BJP government in Chhattisgarh, saying that the state's foodgrain policy was much talked about in the United Nations.