Over 73% polling in Punjab, ex-minister arrested (Third Lead)

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Chandigarh, May 28 (IANS) Polling was completed peacefully in the bypoll to the Shahkot Assembly constituency in Punjab on Monday with over 73 per cent voting reported till 7 p.m., while a former minister was arrested for carrying a pistol to a booth, a senior poll official said.

Electors turned up in a big way to exercise their democratic right in hot and humid weather.

Punjab Chief Electoral Officer S.S. Karuna Raju told the media that vote percentage was 73 till 7 p.m. The polling in the Assembly election in February last year on this seat was 78.6 per cent.

Raju said former Minister of State for Home Brij Bhupinder Singh Lalli was booked and arrested following a complaint by the Congress that he had entered a polling booth in Malsian area with a pistol.

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“The Election Commission lodged FIR with Model police station and police arrested the accused immediately,” Raju said. Lalli had left the ruling Congress and joined the Akali Dal earlier this month after the Congress denied him a ticket.

He said one more person was arrested from Umarwala Billa village.

Polling, which began at 7 a.m., went on even after the 6 p.m. deadline as voters who had queued up earlier were allowed to cast their vote.

With the prevailing heat wave in Punjab, voters started queuing up early in the day. At some polling stations, there were no voters in the afternoon due to the heat wave.

Long queues of voters were seen at some polling stations, especially in rural areas, in the constituency located in Jalandhar district.

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Over 1,000 security personnel, including Punjab Police and Border Security Force, have been stationed in the constituency for a smooth process.

There were 1,72,676 eligible voters on this seat and 12 candidates in the fray.

The main contest is between the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The seat fell vacant following the death of sitting Akali Dal legislator Ajit Singh Kohar in February. Kohar, a former minister, was elected five times from this seat. His son Naib Singh Kohar has been fielded by the Akali Dal.

The Congress candidate is Hardev Singh Ladi, who had lost to Kohar by nearly 5,000 votes in the Assembly elections in February 2017. The AAP has fielded Rattan Singh as its candidate.

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Counting of votes will take place on Thursday.

–IANS

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