MP: 60% voting recorded till 6 pm in Damoh assembly bypoll

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Damoh, Apr 17 (PTI) Amid COVID-19 surge, tentative 60 per cent voting was recorded in the by-election to Damoh assembly seat in Madhya Pradesh till 6 pm on Saturday where the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress are locked in a straight contest.

Damoh district returning officer Tarun Rathi said the polling percentage might go up to 70 or 75 per cent after factoring in the figures of the final polling, which ended at 7 pm. 'Sixty per cent polling was recorded till 6 pm. We expect the polling percentage could be in the range of 70% to 75 % at the close of the voting hours,' Rathi said.

Polling, which began at 7 am, went peacefully amid strict adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines.

People were seen standing in queues outside the polling booths, waiting for their turn to cast vote. White circles were drawn on the ground to ensure that the voters maintain social distancing.

A total of 22 candidates are in the fray, but the main contest lies between Rahul Lodhi of the BJP and Ajay Tandon of the Congress.

The bypoll was necessitated as Lodhi, who had won from Damoh on a Congress ticket in 2018, resigned from the assembly as well as the party in October 2020 and joined the BJP. He had resigned just ahead of the November 3 by-elections to over two dozen seats in the state.

The state had witnessed bypolls to 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 senior leader Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Tandon had earlier contested from the seat twice unsuccessfully against senior BJP leader and former minister Jayant Mallaiya. But now, Lodhi has replaced Mallaiya as the BJP candidate from the seat.

A total of 2,39,709 voters, including 1,15,408 women, were eligible to exercise their franchise at 359 polling booths, the official said.

The counting of votes will take place on May 2. PTI COR LAL NP NSK NSK