Campaigning ends for Damoh assembly bypoll in MP

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Damoh (MP), Apr 15 (PTI) The campaigning for the April 17 bypoll in the Damoh assembly seat of Madhya Pradesh ended on Thursday evening with leaders of the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress wooing voters hard to win the battle of ballots.

A total of 22 candidates are in the fray, but the main contest is likely to be between Rahul Lodhi of the BJP and the Congress's Ajay Tandon. The bypoll has been necessitated as Lodhi, who won from Damoh on a Congress ticket in 2018, resigned from the assembly and the party in October 2020, just ahead of the November 3 by-elections on over two dozen seats, and joined the BJP.

Tandon had earlier contested from the seat twice unsuccessfully against senior BJP senior leader and former minister Jayant Mallaiya.

While Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, BJP's Rajya Sabha MP Jyotiraditya Scindia and state BJP president Vishnu Dutt Sharma led the campaigning for Lodhi, Congress veterans Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh, among others, sought votes for Tandon.

Chouhan harped on development plank, while Scindia termed Nath and Singh as the “Jodi No. 1” who did not fulfil any promise when the Congress was in power. Scindia, who himself quit the Congress in March last year, also alleged corruption under the government headed by Nath.

Congress leaders focused their campaign on alleged unethical methods that were adopted to topple their government in March 2020. Mallaiya had won from Damoh seat six times from 1990 to 2013. However, in the 2018 assembly polls, Lodhi had humbled Mallaiya by a narrow margin of 798 votes.

Now Lodhi has replaced Mallaiya as the BJP candidate from the seat.

The district election office has made elaborate arrangements, keeping in mind the COVID-19 pandemic, for the voting on April 17, Damoh collector and district returning officer Tarun Rathi said.A total of 2,39,709 voters, including 1,15,408 women, are eligible to exercise their franchise at 359 polling booths, he said.

The polling, for which tight security has been made, will begin at 7 AM and conclude at 7 PM, Rathi said.

The counting of votes will take place on May 2.

The state had witnessed bypolls on 28 assembly seats in November last year. As many as 25 of these seats fell vacant after their sitting Congress MLAs switched sides and joined the BJP after a revolt led by Scindia. Out of the 28 seats, the BJP had won 19 and the Congress nine. PTI COR MAS RSY