Shahkot bypoll: 1.72 lakh voters to seal fate of 12 candidates today | punjab | jalandhar | Hindustan Times
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Shahkot bypoll: 1.72 lakh voters to seal fate of 12 candidates today

D-DAY: Battle of prestige for ruling Congress in three-cornered contest; counting of votes on May 31

punjab Updated: May 28, 2018 08:55 IST
Hindustan Times, Shahkot
SHAHKOT BYPOLL,1.72 lakh,voters
The number of polling staff is 1,416 and 1,022 personnel of Punjab Police and BSF have been deputed in Shahkot.(AFP Photo)(AFP Photo)

More than 1.72 lakh voters will seal the fate of 12 candidates in the fray for the Shahkot bypoll, polling to which will take place on Monday. The counting of votes will take place on May 31.

The three major political parties — Congress, Akali Dal and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) — have went all out for the high-stakes bypoll necessitated following the death of Akali MLA Ajit Singh Kohar in February this year.

The bypoll is also being seen as a popularity test of the 14-month-old Congress government in the state. The Captain Amarinder Singh-led government has been facing criticism from the opposition for not fulfilling promises made to the voters in the run-up to the 2017 assembly elections.

While the ruling Congress, which is eyeing to maintain a winning momentum, has fielded Hardev Singh Ladi Sherowalia, the Akali Dal has played an emotional card by giving ticket to Kohar’s son Naib Singh Kohar in a bid to get sympathy votes. The AAP, which is desperate for a victory after crushing defeats in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll and the civic polls, has nominated Rattan Singh Kakkar Kalan.

Congress candidate Ladi, who came under severe attack from the opposition after being booked illegal sand mining, got a booster dose from the CM’s roadshow in the constituency on the last day of campaigning; the Akali Dal managed to bring three leaders of the AAP — CD Singh Kamboj, HS Walia and Hans Raj Rana — and one of Congress (Brij Bhupinder Singh Lalli) into its fold.

ALL ARRANGEMENTS IN PLACE

Jalandhar deputy commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma on Sunday monitored the process of distributing the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines to be used at all polling stations. He said all arrangements have been made to hold free and fair bypoll.

Of the 1,72,686 voters, 89,181 are male and 83,502 female, while three belong to the third gender.

The voting will start at 7am and will go on till 6pm. Holiday has been declared for the electors of Shahkot assembly constituency on May 28.

“Around 2,500 polling staff has distributed the machines for conducting polls at 236 polling stations on 189 locations,” the DC said. The authorities have identified 96 polling booths as vulnerable where six companies of the Border Security Force (BSF), along with the local police, will provide security cover, said the DC.

At least 30 videographers will be deployed with election observers, deputy commissioner, senior superintendent of police, returning officer, sector officers and other polling staff on the polling day. Micro observers have also been deployed at 64 polling booths overseeing the electoral process.

After the polling, the polling staff will deposit the EVMs and VVPAT machines in the strong room set up at Public High School in Shahkot, said the DC, adding that the machines will be transported from Shahkot to Jalandhar amid tight security cover to be provided by the BSF, Punjab Police and Punjab Armed Police.

3 HIGH-SECURITY ZONES

Jalandhar: The district administration has divided the Shahkot assembly segment into three high-security zones to ensure free and fair bypoll. DC Varinder Kumar Sharma and senior superintendent of police Gurpreet Singh Bhullar said an officer of the rank of superintendent of police will be in-charge of each zone and will be assisted by two deputy superintendents of police. A battery of other officials will also be deployed in each zone.

To keep a check on the movement of vehicles and people, 25 checkposts have been set up in the constituency. “Every vehicle entering the constituency is being checked by paramilitary force and the local police,” the DC said. “At least 21 patrolling parties will also keep a check on the presence of outsiders in the constituency,” he added.