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59.63 pc turnout till 3 pm in MP; newly-wed couple, physically challenged woman among voters

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Bhopal, May 13 (PTI) An average voter turnout of 59.63 per cent was recorded till 3 pm on Monday in eight Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh where polling was underway in the fourth and last phase of general elections in the state, officials said.

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Among the eight seats, Khargone so far recorded the highest 63.84 per cent polling, Dewas 63.08 per cent, Dhar 60.18 per cent, Indore 48.04 per cent, Khandwa 59.87 per cent, Mandsour 61.58 per cent, Ratlam 62.78 per cent and Ujjain 60.83 per cent, as per official figures.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mohan Yadav was among the early voters. He exercised his franchise in Ujjain, his home town, along with his family members.

In Indore, a 32-year-old woman, who is speech, hearing and visually-impaired, overcame physical challenges to reach the polling booth and cast her vote.

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A group of voters arrived in a decorated bullock-cart at a polling station in Nepanagar assembly segment under the Khandwa Lok Sabha seat.

A newly-wed couple reached the polling booth in Nepanagar in wedding attires to cast their votes.

In Ratlam-Jhabua Lok Sabha seat, Congress candidate former Union minister Kantilal Bhuria, BJP nominee Anita Chauhan and her minister husband Nagar Singh Chauhan exercised their franchise in the early hours of polling.

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State cabinet minister and senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya and his family members voted in Indore.

MP Deputy CM Jagdish Devda, who is also the state's finance minister, cast his vote in the Mandsour Lok Sabha seat along with his family members.

In Mandsour, polling staff were seen helping an elderly voter by taking her on a wheel-chair to exercise her franchise.

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Some third gender electors in Mansour, after exercising their franchise, appealed to the people to come out and vote.

Voters in Rahimgarh and Picchla gram panchayats in Mandsour Lok Sabha constituency boycotted polling initially over their problems not being solved, but authorities later pacified them following which they turned up for voting.

Earlier in the day, rains disrupted polling in some areas of Khandwa Lok Sabha seat and also in parts of some other constituencies, but voting was going on peacefully, Madhya Pradesh's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Anupam Rajan told PTI.

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Voting began at 7 am and will end at 6 pm in the eight constituencies where 18,007 polling stations have been set up, as per officials.

A total of 74 candidates - 69 men and five women - are in the fray in the fourth phase.

There are 1,63,70,654 persons eligible to cast vote, including 82,48,091 men, 81,22,175 women and 388 third gender persons, the CEO earlier said.

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The eight constituencies, spread over 64 assembly segments in 15 districts in the state's Malwa-Nimar region, are considered the bastion of the BJP.

The Indore Lok Sabha seat has the maximum number of 14 candidates and Khargone has the least five nominees.

Out of the eight seats, Indore also has the highest number of eligible voters at 25,26,803, while Ujjain has the least number of 17,98,704 electors, the CEO said.

In Ratlam, there is a straight fight between former Union minister Kantilal Bhuria and state Forest Minister Nagar Singh Chauhan's wife Anita Chauhan.

In Indore, the 'None of the Above' (NOTA) option has unexpectedly hogged the limelight after Congress candidate Akshay Kanti Bam withdrew his nomination at the last minute and joined the BJP.

As Bam's move set the stage for a one-sided contest for BJP's Shankar Lalwani, who won from Indore by nearly 5.4 lakh votes last time, the Congress urged voters to hit the NOTA button.

Of the total 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh, polling was held in 21 in three phases on April 19, April 26 and May 7. Votes will be counted on June 4. PTI MAS GK

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