Polling for high-stakes Jind assembly bypoll ends, turnout at over 70 per cent

Jind: Over 70 per cent turnout was reported on Monday in the by-election to the Jind assembly constituency in Haryana, dubbed as a prestige battle for all four major contenders ahead of parliamentary and assembly polls. The ruling BJP, Congress, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and and the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), which was formed after a split in the INLD, have pulled out all the stops for a victory, which could prove to be a morale booster for the rank and file. As per preliminary figures, poll percentage at 5 pm has crossed 70 per cent.

According to the officials, the final turnout is likely to be higher as there were people in queues in several booths after 5 PM, the scheduled time for voting to end. The polling began at 7 AM. The bypoll was necessitated following the death of INLD MLA Hari Chan Middha, whose son Krishna Middha recently joined the BJP and is the saffron party’s candidate for the by-election.

The Congress fielded chief national spokesperson and sitting MLA from Kaithal constituency Randeep Singh Surjewala. The INLD is banking on Umed Redhu to retain the seat. The JJP has put its weight behind Digvijay Chautala, the younger son of jailed leader Ajay Singh Chautala, who broke away from the INLD and floated the party. Twenty-one candidates including two women are in the fray.

In the 2014 Haryana Assembly polls, Jind constituency had registered 75.91 poll percentage. In the final two hours of polling, there was a rush outside booths, especially in rural parts of the assembly constituency, as voters queued up to exercise their franchise. Officials here said 15 per cent polling was recorded in the first two hours and by 3 pm, the poll percentage had crossed 60 per cent. The polling remained peaceful, they said. A couple of nonagenarians were amongst those to cast votes early in the morning.

Nearly 1.7 lakh people, including 80,556 women, were eligible to vote. As many as 71 polling booths in rural areas of this constituency and 103 polling booths in urban areas had been set up. Elaborate security arrangements were made to ensure smooth and peaceful conduct of polling. Nearly 3,000 policemen had been put on duty, a senior police official said earlier.

Arch rivals BJP, Congress, INLD and JJP are eyeing the results as a self-assessment exercise ahead of Lok Sabha polls this year. The high-stake election is considered a referendum on the Manohar Lal Khattar government and also a semi-final ahead of Lok Sabha elections. Counting of votes will take place on January 31.

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