Bhopal: Over half of Madhya Pradesh's 5.04 crore voters have exercised their franchies in the Assembly elections where the ruling BJP is locked in a direct and stiff contest with the Congress.
A total of 51.24 per cent polling has been recorded in seven hours which also witnessed some violence in Bhind district besides the death of three poll officials due to health conditions.
Two persons were arrested in a firing incident near an election booth in Bhind, the police said.
Several Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) malfunctioned, which were replaced by the poll panel. The Election Commission also announced that Rs 10 lakh each would be paid to its officials who died during the voting exercise.
Highlight of the day was the voting by a 101-year-old woman who exercised her franchise in Agar Malwa district.
Highest polling was recorded in Chindwara district (63 per cent) so far. It is the home turf of Congress state unit chief Kamal Nath, and Shajapur district. Lowest polling was witnessed in Ujjain and Umaria districts.
Earlier in the day, Chief Electoral Officer V.L. Kantha Rao said that complaints of faulty EVMs and VVPATs were received from over 100 election booths and these were replaced within the first hour.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan voted with his family in Jait village in Bhudni constituency. He is contesting against Congress' Arun Yadav.
After voting, Chauhan said, "I am hopeful that the BJP will win the election with a huge mandate."
Appealing to the people of the state to vote in huge numbers, the Chief Minister said: "This vote is not for making a person an MLA but for the good future and development of the state.
"The way in which I have cast my vote along with my family, I would request people of the state to vote for the BJP for development."
He said that every person's vote would ensure women empowerment and development. It would make the villages smart, change the faces of cities, and help in bringing investment, besides providing good infrastructure, and improved irrigation -- from 40 lakh hectares to 80 lakh hectares.
In Ujjain, two faulty EVMs and 11 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines were replaced by the poll officials. In Bhuranpur constituency, five VVPATs and two faulty EVMs were replaced earlier in the day.
Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who cast his vote in Gwalior, tweeted: "There have been reports of the faulty EVMs from across the state.
"In democracy, vote is the voice of the people -- it is worrying that an effort is being made to suppress it. I request the Election Commission to immediately take notice of this and ensure that the polling takes place in a fair manner without any hurdles."
Kamal Nath also cast his vote after a temple visit along with his family at a polling booth in Chhindwara.
The polling which began at 7 a.m. in three Maoist-affected constituencies in Balaghat district -- Baihar, Lanji and Paraswada -- ended at 3 p.m.
While voting that began in the remaining 227 assembly seats at 8 a.m. would continue till 5 p.m. in all the other constituencies.
The contest is mainly between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, though the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) are also in the fray.
There are a total of 2,907 candidates. The BJP has fielded candidates for all the seats, while the Congress is contesting for 229 seats leaving one in Jatara in Tikamgarh district, for Sharad Yadav-led Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD).
The BSP has fielded 227 candidates and the Samajwadi Party is contesting for 51 seats. There are 1,102 Independent candidates.
In the last elections, the BJP won 165, Congress 58, BSP four and Independents three.
There are 2,63,01,300 male electorates, 2,41,30,390 women and 1,389 of the third gender.