Over 70 per cent turnout was reported on Monday in the by-election to the Jind assembly constituency in Haryana, dubbed as a prestige battle for all four major contenders ahead of crucial Lok Sabha and Assembly polls later in the year. The BJP, Congress, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), which was formed after a split in the INLD, have pulled out all the stops for a victory, which could prove to be a morale booster for the rank and file.
The bypoll in Jind was necessitated following the death of INLD MLA Hari Chan Middha, whose son Krishna Middha recently joined the BJP and is the saffron party's candidate for the by-election. The Congress fielded chief national spokesperson and sitting MLA from Kaithal constituency Randeep Singh Surjewala.
The INLD is banking on Umed Redhu to retain the seat. The JJP has put its weight behind Digvijay Chautala, the younger son of jailed leader Ajay Singh Chautala, who broke away from the INLD and floated the party. Twenty-one candidates including two women are in the fray.
Officials in Jind said 15 per cent polling was recorded in the first two hours and by 3 pm, the poll percentage had crossed 60 per cent. The polling remained peaceful, they said. A couple of nonagenarians were amongst those to cast votes early in the morning. Nearly 1.7 lakh people, including 80,556 women, were eligible to vote.
As many as 71 polling booths in rural areas of this constituency and 103 polling booths in urban areas had been set up. Elaborate security arrangements were made to ensure a smooth and peaceful conduct of polling. Nearly 3,000 policemen had been put on duty, a senior police official said earlier.
Arch rivals BJP, Congress, INLD and JJP are eyeing the results as a self-assessment exercise ahead of Lok Sabha polls this year. The high-stakes election is considered a referendum on the Manohar Lal Khattar government and also a semi-final ahead of Lok Sabha elections.
Rajasthan Assembly Elections in Ramgarh constituency:
Polling in the assembly election in Rajasthan's Ramgarh constituency recorded a voter turnout of 78.45 per cent. The election was deferred following the death of BSP candidate Laxman Singh a few days before the December 7 assembly polls in the state. Twenty candidates, including two women, are in the fray. The BSP has fielded former union minister Natwar Singh's son and former MLA Jagat Singh, while former Alwar Zila Pramukh Shafia Zubair Khan is contesting as Congress candidate. Sukhwant Singh is contesting on a BJP ticket in the constituency. As many as 278 polling booths were set up in the constituency and more than 2,500 policemen were deployed for maintaining law and order.
However, officials in both Jind and Ramgarh said the final turnout is likely to be higher as there were people in queues in several booths after 5 PM, the scheduled time for voting to end. Final voter turnout will be released later, they added. Counting of votes for both Ramgarh and Jind will take place on January 31.