Voting for the bypoll to the Naxal-affected Dantewada Assembly constituency began on Monday morning amid tight security. The bypoll was necessitated due to the death of BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi in a Naxal attack in April. Polling began at 7 am and it will go on till 3 pm, an election official said here. A total of 1,88,263 voters, including 89,747 men and 98,876 women, are eligible to exercise their franchise in the constituency, which has 273 polling stations. A massive security blanket of around 18,000 personnel, including those from paramilitary forces, and drones have been thrown around the Dantewada Assembly segment, which is part of the insurgency-hit Bastar region, for conducting peaceful polling, a police official said. The counting of votes will be taken up on September 27. Nine candidates are in the fray for the seat, the only one in Bastar division that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) managed to win in last year’s Assembly election. Both the ruling Congress and the BJP have fielded candidates who have been victims of Naxal violence, with the former pitting Devti Karma, wife of senior party leader Mahendra Karma who was killed in the Jhiram Valley attack in 2013, against the latter’s Ojaswi Mandavi, wife of slain MLA Bhima Mandavi. The other candidates are Hemant Poyam (Bahujan Samaj Party), Sujit Karma (Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J)), Bhimsen Mandavi (Communist Party of India), Ajay Nag (Nationalist Congress Party), Ballu Ram Bhawani (Aam Aadmi Party), Yogesh Markam (Gondwana Gantantra Party) and Independent Sudru Ram Kunjam. Stakes are high for the main opposition BJP as it is fighting to retain the seat. In the 2018 Assembly polls, Devti Karma had lost to Bhima Mandavi by a thin margin of 2,172 votes in the Dantewada seat. In the 90-member state Assembly, the Congress won 68 seats last year and the BJP 15. The Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) and the BSP had bagged five and two seats respectively.
The anti-doping disciplinary panel has left it to the respective federations to take a call on the participation of the seven dope tainted athletes in the Commonwealth Games.While four wrestlers and two swimmers are unlikely to get any favours from their federations, shot putter Sourabh Vij would make the cut as the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has stuck with his name in the squad.The provisional suspension of 12 athletes, who tested positive for methylhexaneamine, has been revoked by the three-member panel which makes seven of them eligible for the Games.The seven, who were initially part of the Commonwealth Games team, include four wrestlers, two swimmers and a shot putter. The only conclusion that could be arrived on Monday was that the six wrestlers were tested in competition and all the 12 will now be heard on October 21.While the suspension of the seven athletes who were part of the CWG squad was revoked in the last hearing on Wednesday, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) failed to convey the message to the three federations.It was only on Monday that the revocation orders were sent to the federations after the threemember panel headed by Dinesh Dayal asked the NADA officials to communicate the order.Arjuna awardee Rajiv Tomar is amongst the four wrestlers who flunked the dope test and were part of the Commonwealth Games squad. Even though the panel’s decision to revoke the provisional ban makes them eligible to take part in the CWG, the federation has made it clear that it will not reinduct any of these grapplers as the final order is still awaited.advertisement”No, we will not include any of these wrestlers in the team because it is just the suspension that has been revoked and the panel has not given the final verdict,” Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president GS Mander told Mail Today. “The wrestlers who have replaced them have had their accreditation done. It is neither nor practically possible to replace them.”If we take them into the team and then on October 21, the panel finds them guilty, it will be a huge embarrassment for us,” he said. The point of contention was whether the six wrestlers were tested in competition or out of competition and the NADA panel was divided on the issue.While the chairman concluded that the tests were conducted out-of-competition, the others – Dinesh Khanna and Dr NK Khadiya -thought otherwise.The Swimming Federation of India (SFI) said that if the CGF allows them to make fresh entries for Richa Mishra and Jyotsana Pansare, they will include them in the team.”We will have to check with the CGF to know the last date of making fresh entries and if it permits us, we will include both Richa and Jyotsana because we will not include them at the cost of other swimmers who are already training with the team,” SFI secretary general Virendra Nanavati said.But the time has ran out for both Richa and Jyotsana as September 3 was the final date for submitting the teams by name and after that the CGF accepts changes only as replacements.