Bandra (East), Dhuri by-polls begin amid tight security

Mumbai/Dhuri (Punjab) : Polling for the Bandra (East) Assembly constituency in Mumbai, which was left vacant after the death of Shiv Sena MLA Bala Sawant, is currently on amid tight security arrangements. The Congress has fielded former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane , the Shiv Sena has fielded Trupti Sawant while the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) has fielded Siraj Khan for this by-poll.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has reportedly extended support to the Shiv Sena candidate, while the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has extended its support to Congress candidate Rane, a former Shiv Sena leader. In Dhuri, Punjab, a tough contest is on between the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the opposition Congress. The SAD has fielded former minister Gobind Singh Longowal from this seat in the hope of securing an absolute majority in the Punjab State Assembly. The Congress-Sanjha Morcha combine has fielded young political greenhorn Simar Partap Singh Barnala, the grandson of former Punjab chief minister Surjeet Singh Barnala.

The Congress has described the Dhuri by-poll as the “beginning of the end of the SAD-BJP combine”.  At present, the SAD has 58 Members in the 117-seat Punjab Vidhan Sabha.  The Dhuri by-poll was necessitated after Congress MLA Arvind Khanna resigned in January this year. The AAP has opted not to contest the by-poll. A total of twelve candidates are in the fray and 1.51 lakh voters are expected to exercise their right to vote. Around 1,800 police personnel have been deployed at 116 polling booths to ensure a a peaceful by-poll. A public holiday has been declared across Sangrur District due to the by-poll.

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