Lakhs of people lined up to cast their votes for the eight assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab that went to bypolls on Thursday.
In Madhya Pradesh, polling in three assembly constituencies saw a brisk turnout of 67.2% voters. While the voting percentage was highest at Bahoriband at 67.2%, Aagar and Vijayraghavgarh were not too far behind at 63.8% and 63.4% respectively.
Both constituencies also witnessed a high turnout of women voters. At Aagar, 58.81% women voters exercised their franchise while 59.9% cast their vote at Vijayraghavgarh.
The turnout in Karnataka was also impressive, with 77% registering their votes in the three assembly constituencies of Chikkodi, Shikaripura and Bellary Rural.
In what is being seen as a test of popularity, the bypolls will decide whether chief minister Siddaramaiah is able to consolidate the Congress’ hold in a state where the party managed to save face in a dismal showing in the general election.
While the party is expected to win the Chikkodi seat, BJP vice-president BS Yeddyurappa could prove to be a challenge, as he has worked very hard to win it. BJP is expected to do well in Bellary Rural, represented by mining baron B Sriramulu.
The BJP is also smug about Shikaripura, a constituency Yeddyurappa represented six times, and is now being contested by his son, BY Raghavendra. It saw a 71% voter turnout while Chikkodi and Bellary Rural saw 86% and 72% turnouts respectively.
Voter turnout was also high in the two assembly constituencies of Talwandi Sabo and Patiala in Punjab. While 68% turned up to cast their ballot in Talwandi, Patiala witnessed a 60% turnout. Former Union minister Preneet Kaur is contesting from Patiala, a seat left vacant by her husband, Amarinder Singh after he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Amritsar.
The main contest was between the Akali Dal and the Congress, although the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which won four seats in the Lok Sabha election in Punjab, was also in the fray. Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa alleged that Akali Dal workers attacked Congress candidate from Talwani, Harminder Singh Jassi and captured booths in villages.
(With inputs from Bengaluru, Chandigarh)