Madhya Pradesh bypolls: 4.35 lakh voters to decide fate of 35 candidates

In the 2013 assembly elections, Congress’s Ram Singh Yadav and Mahendra Singh Kalukheda had won in Kolaras and Mungaoli. However, the deaths of the two leaders necessitated the bypolls.

bhopal Updated: Feb 24, 2018 10:11 IST
Ranjan
Ranjan
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Madhya Pradesh,Bypoll,Kolaras
People stand outside a polling booth in Madhya Pradeh’s Kolaras.(ANI Photo)

More than 4.35 lakh voters will on Saturday decide the fate of 35 candidates contesting the bypolls being held in Kolaras and Mungaoli assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, which will set the tone for the upcoming assembly elections.

Polling began at 8 am at 575 polling centres amidst tight security. 10 companies of paramilitary forces, four companies of state armed forces (SAF), and local police and home guards have been deployed, state chief electoral officer Saleena Singh said.

In the 2013 assembly elections, Congress’s Ram Singh Yadav and Mahendra Singh Kalukheda had won in Kolaras and Mungaoli. However, the deaths of the two leaders necessitated the bypolls.

Both, the Congress and the ruling BJP are desperate to win the seats to gain a psychological advantage ahead of the general assembly elections in November.

In the run-up to the election, charges and counter-charges flew thick and fast. Leaders from the two parties accused each other of trying to buy votes. Complaints were lodged with the election commission.

Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan led the BJP campaign and deployed an army of his ministerial colleagues to crisscross the constituencies and woo voters. Chouhan promised five years’ development in five months.

Meanwhile, Guna MP and prominent Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia asked people to endorse the development works he ensured in the constituencies.

As per chief electoral officer, about 3,000 government employees have been engaged in poll duties. Electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be fitted with voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines to enable voters to see if their votes have been registered against the candidates of their choice. They will get seven seconds to see the paper and verify their vote.

Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan borders in the poll-bound Shivpuri and Ashok Nagar districts have been sealed while micro-observers have been appointed in the constituencies for the bypolls.

In a significant development, the Election Commission of India found statements made by chief minister Chouhan, minister for sports and youth welfare Yashodhra Raje Scindia and minister of woman and child development Maya Singh as violation of the model code of conduct.

The commission advised the chief minister “to be more careful in future while making public speeches”. It censured Yashodhra Raje Scindia and expected that “you being a responsible political leader, shall be more circumspect in your public utterances during election time”. Maya Singh has been directed to submit her reply by 5 pm on Sunday.

First Published: Feb 24, 2018 09:38 IST