Voting began this morning for the crucial by-elections to to Shivpuri’s Kolaras and Ashnoknagar’s Mungaoli assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, where the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the principal-opposition Congress are in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation.
Amid tight security, the polling commenced at 0800 hrs and would close at 1700 hrs at 311 polling centres in Kolaras where a 2,44,456-strong electorate, including 1,13,753 women, are expected to exercise their franchise for sealing the fate of 22 candidates.
Likewise, polling commenced at 264 polling centres in Mungaoli where a 1,91,009-strong electorate, including 88,933 women, are likely to cast their votes to determine the fortune of 13 candidates. Counting of votes will be taken up on February 28.
Elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair polling with VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) machines being set up along with EVMs (electronic voting machines).
Over 3,000 polling personnel have been assigned duty at all 575 polling centres. Ten companies of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) have been deployed besides two companies of Special Armed Force (SAF) and local police personnel.
The principal contest is between Devendra Jain (BJP) and Mahendra Singh Yadav (Congress) in Kolaras. The bypoll became inevitable, following the death of Mr Ram Singh Yadav (Cong).
Similarly, Baisaab Yadav (BJP) and Brajendra Singh Yadav (Cong) are locked in a direct combat in Mungaoli. The by-election was necessitated following the demise of Mr Mahendra Singh Kalukheda (Cong).
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan assumed the reins of campaigning for the saffron party. From the Congress camp; former Union ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath, the party’s state unit chief Arun Yadav and Leader of the Opposition Ajay Singh were among those on the campaign trail.