Brisk polling underway in MP bypolls

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Bhopal, Feb 24 (IANS) Nearly 30 per cent of electors cast their votes in the first three hours of polling on Saturday in byelections to Mungaoli and Kolaras assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh — seen as a battle royale between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress.

A poll official here said that while Mungaoli in Ashoknagar district reported 30 per cent polling, Kolaras in Shivpuri reported more than 25 per cent till 11.30 a.m.

The by and large peaceful polling was marred by sporadic clashes — especially one in Digoda village in Kolaras — between the Congress and BJP workers, the Election Commission (EC) official said.

Police station in-charge in Mungaoli, Kushal Singh Bhadoria, was removed from his post, he said, adding that Risheshwar Singh has replaced Bhadoria.

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Chief Election Officer Saleena Singh has appealed to voters to remain calm and exercise their right to vote without fear. There is a public holiday in both places in view of the poll process.

A total of 22 candidates from Mungaoli and 13 from Kolaras are in the fray.

As many as 2,44,457 electors from Kolaras and 1,91,009 from Mungaoli were eligible to vote between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Some 3,000 poll officials are conducting the process at 575 polling stations, the EC official said.

The assembly seats fell vacant following the death of sitting Congress MLAs Mahendra Singh Kalukheda (Mungaoli) and Ram Singh Yadav (Kolaras).

These bypolls are being seen as a prestige battle for Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who is in his third term as Chief Minister, and his arch-rival Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress.

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The two assembly segments are parts of Scindia’s Guna Lok Sabha constituency.

The votes will be counted on February 28 and the results will be declared the same day, the EC said.

Electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines are being used at all polling booths. Some 15 and 17 machines were replaced in Kolaras and Mungaoli, respectively.

–IANS

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