Over 52 per cent voting in MP by-polls

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Bhopal, April 9 (IANS) Amid reports of violence and allegations of booth capturing, over 52 per cent ballotting was recorded in bypolls for two Madhya Pradesh assembly seats — Ater in Bhind district and Bandhavgarh in Umaria district — in the first eight hours on Sunday.

According to the Election Commission, over 53 per cent voter turnout was recorded in Ater and over 52 per cent in Bandhavgarh till 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Several incidents of violence, including clashes between the Congress and BJP activists, were reported from Ater.

There were also instances of stone pelting and reports of alleged firing in Ater. Congress candidate from the constituency Hemant Katare accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) goons of attacking his car and also of booth capturing.

“BJP supporters were indulging in booth capturing and when I tried to prevent them, they threatened me and manhandled me and my driver,” he said.

State Congress chief Arun Yadav accused the BJP and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of using the state machinery to influence the voting process.

He also accused the district administration of turning a blind eye to the complaints of voting malpractices against the BJP.

The BJP in turn has accused the Congress of violating the poll model code of conduct and has demanded re-polling in several booths in Ater.

State Chief Electoral Officer Saleena Singh, interacting with the media, admitted there were attempts at malpractices in certain booths but asserted that there was no booth capturing. She also said elaborate security arrangements have been made, including deployment of adequate number of central security personnel, in both the constituencies.

The Ater assembly seat fell vacant following the death of sitting legislator Satyadev Katare of the Congress, while the by-poll in Bandhavgarh was necessitated after its lawmaker Gyan Singh was elected to the Lok Sabha in November byelection last year.

The counting of votes in both assembly bypolls would take place on April 13.

–IANS

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