Over 76% Turnout For Shahkot Assembly Bypoll

The Shahkot assembly constituency, considered an Akali bastion, had recorded 78.60 per cent polling during 2017 Assembly polls.

Over 76% Turnout For Shahkot Assembly Bypoll

The counting of votes will take place on May 31.

Shahkot: Over 76 per cent of 1.72 lakh voters exercised their franchise for the Shahkot Assembly bypoll today where the Congress, SAD and AAP are locked in a triangular battle.

"Nearly 76.6 per cent polling has been witnessed," an election official said.

The Shahkot assembly constituency, considered an Akali bastion, had recorded 78.60 per cent polling during 2017 Assembly polls.

The counting of votes will take place on May 31.

Punjab Chief Electoral Officer S Karuna Raju said polling to the Shahkot bypoll remained peaceful as there was no report of any violence.

However, an Akali leader and former state home minister Brij Bhupinder Singh Lalli, who had left Congress and joined SAD ahead of bypoll, was caught with a revolver at the Malsian polling booth, the official said.

"Brij Bhupinder Singh Lalli entered with a revolver at booth number 91-92. He was immediately rounded up and an FIR was registered against him under relevant provisions of the People's Representation act," he said.

The complaint was lodged by Congress leaders, said Raju.

There was a report of a scuffle which took place outside the polling area, the official said adding that one person was arrested from Umarwala Billa.

He also said that 13 VVPAT machines, one Control Unit and two Ballot Units were immediately changed due to technical glitches.

In the morning, polling began on a brisk note at 7 am with voters in large numbers including the elderly queued up.

However, the momentum slackened because of the scorching heat in the afternoon. Later, the polling again picked up, officials said.

Tight security arrangements were made for the smooth and peaceful conduct of the Shahkot bypoll.

The Shahkot bypoll was necessitated by the demise of Akali MLA Ajit Singh Kohar in February this year.

Ruling Congress fielded Hardev Singh Laddi while Akali Dal gave ticket to Ajit Singh Kohar's son Naib Singh Kohar. The Aam Aadmi Party nominated Rattan Singh Kakkar Kalan for the bypoll.

While casting their votes, both Laddi and Kohar exuded confidence that they would win.

More than 70 per cent of 1,72,676 voters who were eligible exercised their franchise. There were 236 polling booths in the constituency, of which webcasting was held at 103 stations.

To a question on Akali Dal raising objection to a press conference held by Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar in Chandigarh today, Punjab CEO said he would first see the footage before taking any decision.

"Let me see the footage. If the press conference has anything related to Shahkot bypoll, we will take action. But before that we will first examine the footage," said Raju.

In a press conference in Chandigarh, Punjab Congress today announced to launch the state-wide protest on May 31 against the rising fuel prices. SAD called it a "brazen violation of model code of conduct and an attempt to influence voters".

SAD charged the ruling Congress with "misuse" of 'Punjab Bhawan' premises in Chandigarh for holding a press conference, saying the event could not have been held at a government property on the day of polling when Model Code was in force.

The Election Commission deployed 1,022 security personnel, including six companies of the Border Security Force, in Shahkot, an official said adding that 1,416 polling staff were also deployed.

EVMs and Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) were used at all polling stations.

While the Congress is trying to maintain the winning momentum, opposition Akali Dal is striving to retain its pocket borough from where late Ajit Singh Kohar was elected five-times.

Aam Aadmi Party, which faced a humiliating defeat in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll and civic polls, is desperately looking for the victory.

The Congress had won 77 seats in the 117-member Punjab Vidhan Sabha during 2017 Assembly polls while the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance managed to win 18 seats. The AAP won 20 seats while Lok Insaf Party had bagged two seats.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)