More than 56% of people cast their votes on Saturday in the by-elections for the Ratlam-Jhabua Lok Sabha seat, seen as a barometer of the ruling BJP’s popularity amidst a growing farm crisis and a devastating explosion that killed 80 people in Petlawad.
The polling percentage of 56.40 was, however, more than 8% lower than the elections in 2014 and 2013, which poll analysts said could mean worries for the ruling party in Madhya Pradesh.
Banking on a sympathy wave, the BJP has fielded the Petlawad MLA Nirmala Bhuria, daughter of Dileep Singh Bhuria, whose death necessitated the by-elections.
The Congress has put up former Union minister Kantilal Bhuria to reclaim the tribal-dominated seat from the BJP.
The JD(U), though not a major player in the state, has joined hands with the CPI, CPM, Gondwana Gantantra Party and Bahujan Sangarsh Dal and fielded Vijay Haari as the third alternative.
The state’s chief electoral officer Salina Singh told newsmen that polling was peaceful barring an incident of boycott by villagers in Dasi which was later resolved.
People of the village had refused to vote over water scarcity but relented after the district administration intervened.
In Petlawad, a man who was attacked by a monkey at a booth, returned to exercise his franchise after getting first aid at the local hospital.
Polling was also held in Telangana’s Warangal Lok Sabha constituency where 67 per cent voting was registered on Saturday, according to chief electoral officer Bhanwar Lal.
The by-poll to the SC reserved seat was necessitated after sitting MP Kadiyam Srihari was made the deputy chief minister.
The ruling TRS took the poll seriously and confident of a victory at least two ministers in Rao’s government stated the election to be a referendum on Rao’s one-and-half-year rule.
All the major parties – TRS, Congress, BJP-TDP combine, YSRCP - have put up their candidates and in total 23 candidates are in the fray.
Counting of votes in both seats would take place on November 24.