Voting began Thursday morning for the bypoll to the Punjabs Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, where the ruling AAP is facing its first test of popularity after its impressive performance in the assembly elections.
Amid tight security, the polling began at 8 am and will continue till 6 pm, officials said, adding the counting of votes will be taken up on June 26. There are 15,69,240 eligible voters — 8,30,056 men, 7,39,140 women and 44 from transgender community — in the Sangrur parliamentary constituency.
A total of 16 candidates, including three women, are in the fray.
The bypolls come at a time when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is facing Opposition heat over the law and order issue and the killing of Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala.
Candidates fielded by the Congress, the BJP and the SAD are hoping to cause an election upset while the AAP is looking to repeat its feat of the 2022 assembly polls in which it won all nine assembly segments under the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency.
Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann campaigned extensively and also took out a roadshow with AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal on Monday urging voters to elect party candidate Gurmail Singh, partys Sangrur district in-charge.
Mann expressed confidence that “the revolutionary people of Sangrur will once again vote for a common man and the AAPs Gurmail Singh will win the bypoll with a thumping majority”.
The Congress, the BJP and the SAD had hit out at the AAP dispensation during the campaigning over the “deteriorating” law and order situation in the state and also raised the killing of Punjabi singer Moosewala.
Apart from law and order, the opposition parties have slammed the AAP government over “unfulfilled promises”.
The main opposition Congress has fielded former Dhuri MLA Dalvir Singh Goldy in the bypoll while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made former Barnala MLA Kewal Dhillon its candidate, who joined the saffron party on June 4.
Kamaldeep Kaur, the sister of Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict in former Punjab chief minister Beant Singhs assassination case, has been fielded by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann is also in the fray.
The Sangrur Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after Bhagwant Mann resigned as MP after winning Dhuri seat in the February 20 Assembly polls.
The CM had won the Sangrur seat in 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections.
Of the remaining 12 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, the Congress has eight seats, while two each are of the BJP and SAD.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)