55 pc voter turnout in bypoll for Punjab's Jalandhar West assembly seat

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Jalandhar, Jul 10 (PTI) A voter turnout of around 55 per cent was recorded in the Jalandhar West assembly bypoll in Punjab on Wednesday, a sharp drop from the 67 per cent the seat saw in the 2022 state election.

Polling was held from 7 am to 6 pm and remained peaceful, officials said.

According to an election official, the reserved assembly seat recorded approximately 55 per cent voter turnout.

The Jalandhar West constituency saw a multi-cornered contest with major political outfits like AAP, the Congress and the BJP vying to outdo each other. Fifteen candidates were in the fray.

The seat fell vacant after Sheetal Angural resigned as the AAP legislator and joined the BJP in March.

In the evening, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann thanked the voters of the constituency for fulfilling their responsibility by voting.

"Heartfelt thanks to all the voters of Jalandhar West. You fulfilled your responsibility by stepping out of your house and casting your vote in a very peaceful and disciplined manner," Mann said in a post on 'X'.

Speaking to reporters earlier in the day, Congress candidate Surinder Kaur slammed the AAP government in the state and claimed that people were fed up with it and they would teach it a lesson in the bypoll.

AAP candidate Mohinder Bhagat exuded confidence that people would ensure his party's victory.

Surinder Kaur, a former senior deputy mayor, and Bhagat, the son of former minister and former BJP MLA Bhagat Chunni Lal Bhagat, are contesting the polls against BJP's Angural.

Bhagat, who had unsuccessfully contested this seat in the 2017 and 2022 assembly elections from the BJP, joined AAP after quitting the BJP last year.

Angural alleged the presence of some AAP workers, who, he claimed, were from other places of the state, in the assembly constituency in violation of the poll code.

Though the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had fielded Surjit Kaur for the bypoll, the Sukhbir Badal-led outfit later withdrew its support and disowned her. She was chosen as a candidate by a panel, two members of which rebelled against the party chief.

The SAD had also announced its support to Bahujan Samaj Party nominee Binder Kumar for the bypoll. However, a section of SAD leaders, who revolted against Badal, is supporting Surjit Kaur in the bypoll.

At many polling stations, plants were given to voters who exercised their franchise.

During the bypoll, indelible ink was applied on the middle finger of the left hand of voters, instead of the index finger. This change came as in the recent Lok Sabha elections, the index fingers were marked with ink.

The bypoll was being seen as a litmus test for the Punjab chief minister who would like his party to register victory to retain this reserved constituency.

The victory is important for Mann as his party faced a drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls in which it could win just three of the state's 13 parliamentary constituencies.

The stakes are also high for the main opposition party Congress, which would want its candidate to register a victory after winning seven Lok Sabha constituencies.

Prestige was also at stake for the BJP, which wanted to taste victory from the Jalandhar West seat after drawing a blank in the state in the Lok Sabha polls.

There were a total of 1,71,963 eligible voters -- 89,629 males, 82,326 females and eight third-gender voters.

There were 874 Persons with Disabilities (PwD) category voters for whom necessary arrangements of wheelchairs and pick-and-drop facilities were made, the officials said.

A total of 181 polling stations were set up, they said. PTI CHS SUN IJT IJT

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