Nearly 45% polling recorded in MP bypolls

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Bhopal, Feb 24 (IANS) More than 45 per cent polling was reported in five hours in two assembly by-elections in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday that were being keenly contested by the ruling BJP and its rival Congress.

An Election Commission official here said that while Mungaoli in Ashoknagar district reported 47 per cent polling, Kolaras in Shivpuri reported more than 44 per cent till 1 p.m.

The by and large peaceful polls were marred by sporadic clashes — especially one in Digoda village in Kolaras — between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party workers, the poll official said.

Police station in-charge in Mungaoli, Kushal Singh Bhadoria, was removed from his post, the official 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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