A total of 62.46% people cast their votes on Saturday in the by-elections to the Ratlam-Jhabua Lok Sabha seat, seen as a barometer of the ruling BJP’s popularity amid a growing farm crisis and a devastating explosion that killed 80 people in Petlawad.
Women turned out in large numbers to cast their vote. The voting began at brisk pace in the morning with 57.55% of voters casting their votes by 3 pm after which it slowed down. The overall voting was peaceful barring a few incidents. BJP lawmaker from Jobat, Madho Singh Dabar had a dispute with CRPF personnel. No complaints of bogus voting were reported.
In the Sailana assembly segment, 64.99% of voting had taken place by 3 pm while in the Ratlam rural assembly segment more than 66% people cast their votes during the same time.
The voting was slow in Ratlam city unlike in the 2014 general elections, when people voted enthusiastically. More than 41% of votes were polled by 3 pm.
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 BSD and fielded Vijay Haari as the third alternative.
People boycotted voting at Doshigaon polling station in Ratlam city to protest against the poor state of civic amenities, including lack of proper roads, drinking water supply and erratic power supply. Though voting resumed by 12.45 pm, only seven women and 20 men had cast votes by 1 pm. The polling booth has 999 voters, which include 536 men and 463 women.
Simian attack on voters at polling booth number 81 in Petlawad (Jhabua district) triggered panic for a while. A monkey attacked one Bheru around 1.30 pm on Saturday following which the youth had to be rushed to a nearby hospital. Bheru sustained injuries on his leg. The money was later chased away by the policemen and other voters. The voting continued unhindered.