Amid heavy security and adhering to COVID-19 restrictions, voting began at 7 am for bypolls to 28 assembly seats in 19 districts of Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday (November 3).
For the first time in the history of Madhya Pradesh, 28 Assembly seats in the 230-member House are going to bypolls in a single day. The counting of votes will take place on November 10.
By-elections are being held in 25 seats as sitting Congress MLAs resigned and joined the BJP, resulting in the fall of the Kamal Nath government. They are now in the fray as BJP candidates. In the three other seats, the by-election was necessitated due to the demise of the sitting legislators.
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A few days back, one more Congress MLA resigned. Currently, the BJP has 107 MLAs, while the Congress has 87 legislators in the House. A total of 355 candidates, including 12 ministers, are in the fray for bypolls.
The last hour of voting, between 5pm and 6pm, will be for COVID-19 patients and people suspected to be suffering from the disease, state additional chief electoral officer Arun Tomar told news agency PTI.
He said, around 33,000 security personnel have been deployed, 50 flying squads, 173 static surveillance teams and 293 police check-posts have been pressed into service. There are total 63.67 lakh voters in the 28 Assembly constituencies, he added.
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As many as 9,361 booths have been set up for people to exercise their franchise and out of these, 3,038 are placed under the “critical” category, he said.
In most of the seats, there is a direct fight between the BJP and Congress, while in two or three seats of Gwalior Chambal region, a triangular contest is on the cards in the wake of the BSP’s presence there, political observers said.
These bypolls are a big test for BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who switched from the Congress. He took to Twitter on Monday to appeal to the voters. “I request you all to vote in favour of the BJP candidates and thus strengthen Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. Every vote cast in favour of BJP will contribute to making of a prosperous Madhya Pradesh and strong India,” he tweeted.
भाजपा को दिया हुआ एक एक वोट समृद्ध मध्यप्रदेश और मजबूत देश के निर्माण में सहभागी बनेगा।
— Jyotiraditya M. Scindia (@JM_Scindia) November 2, 2020
(With inputs from PTI)