Chandigarh: SAD (Amritsar) candidate Simranjit Singh Mann was leading over his nearest AAP rival Gurmail Singh by a margin of over 4,500 votes from the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, which is witnessing a close fight between the two nominees, according to initial trends on Sunday.
Counting of votes for the bypoll to the high-stakes Lok Sabha seat is underway.
According to the trends available at noon, Mann has so far polled 2,31,985 votes, while AAP's Gurmail Singh secured 2,27,394 votes.
In most of the rounds held so far, both the contestants have been neck and neck though Mann maintained a slender lead over Gurmail.
Mann, 77, is a former MP and the president of SAD (Amritsar).
Congress candidate Dalvir Singh Goldy, BJP's Kewal Dhillon and SAD's Kamaldeep Kaur Rajoana were at the third, fourth and fifth spots, respectively, the trends showed.
Counting of votes began at 8 am on Sunday amid tight security arrangements.
The fate of 16 candidates, who are in the fray, was sealed during polling on June 23.
The bypoll to Sangrur Lok Sabha seat had witnessed a low turnout of 45.30 per cent as against 72.44 per cent polling in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and 76.71 per cent in 2014 polls.
There were 15.69 lakh eligible voters this time.
The bypoll was necessitated due to the resignation of Bhagwant Mann from the Lok Sabha seat after he was elected as an MLA in the state assembly elections earlier this year.
Bhagwant Mann, who is the state's chief minister now, had won the Sangrur seat in the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections.
The bypoll is the first major electoral battle after the Aam Aadmi Party's resounding victory in the state assembly polls in March this year.
For the ruling AAP, the bypoll is seen as a battle of prestige for retaining its bastion, while for opposition parties Congress, BJP and SAD are looking to register a victory after being decimated in the assembly polls.
The AAP fielded Singh, 38, who is the party's Sangrur district in-charge, while the Congress placed its bet on former Dhuri MLA Goldy.
The BJP fielded former Barnala MLA Dhillon who joined the party early this month.
Sangrur parliamentary constituency is considered the bastion of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which won all the nine assembly segments -- Lehra, Dirba, Barnala, Sunam, Bhadaur, Mehal Kalan, Malerkotla, Dhuri and Sangrur in the 2022 assembly elections.
Bhagwant Mann had won the Sangrur seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls after defeating SAD candidate Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa with a margin of 2.11 lakh votes.
Mann again contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Sangrur and won it by a margin of 1.10 lakh votes after defeating Congress party's Kewal Dhillon.
While the opposition parties -- Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP -- are taking on the AAP for alleged deteriorating law and order situation, murder of popular singer Sidhu Moosewala and "unfulfilled" poll promises, the ruling party focused on eradicating corruption, giving jobs to youngsters, improving condition of schools and hospitals, and paving the way for a "Rangla (vibrant) Punjab" again.