By-polls end peacefully in Tripura, Punjab and Telangana (Roundup)

Agartala/Chandigarh/Hyderabad, Feb 13 (IANS) The by-elections to three assembly seats in Tripura, Punjab and Telangana passed off peacefully on Saturday, officials in the three states said.

In Tripura, around 88 percent of the 38,270 voters cast their ballots in the by-election to the Amarpur assembly seat, an official said. The polling, which was totally peaceful, started at 8 a.m. amidst tight security and ended at 5 p.m. Counting will take place on February 16.

Over 70 percent polling was registered on Saturday in the by-election to Narayankhed assembly constituency in Telangana’s Medak district, officials said.

“The polling came to an end at 5 p.m. but those standing in queues were still being allowed to cast their votes,” Medak District Collector Ronald Ross said.

No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the constituency as tight security arrangements were in place. Long queues were seen in majority of the polling centres since morning. There were 1,88,236 eligible voters for the by-poll.

The by-election was necessitated due to the death of sitting Congress legislator P. Kishta Reddy in August 2015.

There are eight candidates in the fray but the main contest is between P. Sanjeeva Reddy, son of Kishta Reddy, from Congress, M. Vijayapal Reddy from Telugu Desam Party and M. Bhupal Reddy from ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).

In Punjab’s Khadoor Sahib seat, over 55 percent voting had been recorded till 5 p.m. Scores of voters were still queued up outside polling station even beyond the deadline for end of voting.

Polling remained peaceful in this seat. There were over 1.87 lakh eligible voters in the constituency.

Voting started on Saturday morning amidst a boycott of the election by Congress and AAP, making it a one-sided contest for the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal.

Akali Dal candidate Ravinder Singh Brahmpura faces six other candidates, including five independents.

The seat fell vacant after sitting Congress legislator Ramanjit Singh Sikki resigned in October 2015 over recent incidents of sacrilege of Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, in Punjab and the state government failing to stop such incidents.

The candidate winning the Khadoor Sahib seat in the by-election will remain a legislator for only about one year as assembly elections to 117 seats in Punjab will be held in February 2017.

In Tripura, the voting remained peaceful.

“No untoward incident has been reported so far and polling was completely peaceful and smooth. Around 88 percent votes were recorded when polling ended at 5 p.m.,” Additional Chief Electoral Officer Debashish Modak told IANS.

Though there were seven candidates in the by-election, the main contest was likely to be between ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) nominee Parimal Debnath, Congress’s Chanchal Dey and Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Ranjit Das.

The by-election was necessitated following the resignation of CPI-M legislator Manoranjan Acharjee after he was alleged to have molested a minor girl.

Acharjee, who was elected in 2008 and again in 2013 from the constituency, has denied the charges. The CPI-M expelled him on charges of wrongdoing.

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