Fierce battle in naxal-affected Lanji constituency

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Balaghat, MP, Oct 27 (UNI) The assembly by-election for Lanji constituency in Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh will see a tough fight between the ruling BJP and main Opposition Congress even as the presence of SP nominee Kishore Simarte, who is contesting the by-poll from jail, has made the by-election more interesting.

The BJP has fielded former minister late Dilip Bhatere's wife, Dhareshwari Bhatere as its candidate and pumped all its resources to retain its seat.

On the other hand, Congress nominee Bhagvat Bhau Nagpure wants to repeat his victory of 1998.

Altogether 19 candidates -- including Bharatiya Janshakti (BJ) candidate Badhuram Devgadhe, Janta Party's Kankar Munjare and GGP nominee Rajeshwar Choudhary -- are testing their electoral fortunes from this constituency, which has an electorate of about 1.21 lakh, including 60,196 women.

The by-election assumes special significance in view of assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh next year. Campaigning for the by-poll has reached its peak and would end tomorrow at 1700 hours.

Polling would be held across 148 balloting centres on October 30, while counting would take place on November 3.

Besides Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state party President Narendra Singh Tomar, six ministers are canvassing votes for Ms Bhatere. The BJP is harping on the development works carried out by it in the past four years.

Meanwhile, Mr Nagpure is holding various public meetings in addition to carrying out other public relations exercise in a bid to avenge his defeat in 2003. He blames the government for deteriorating law and order situation, slow pace of development and rampant corruption.

Congress leaders believed that the by-election was a trailer in view of the assembly elections next year in which the BJP's defeat was certain.

SP President Mulayam Singh Yadav and senior SP leader Amar Singh had already addressed public meetings in support of Mr Simarte.

Besides, SP workers were campaigning fiercely. However, it remains to be seen whether Mr Simarte could make a tangible impact on the poll scenario from jail.

In the last election, Mr Bhatere polled more than 29,000 votes as against about 15,000 secured by Mr Nagpure. The by-election was necessitated due to the demise of Mr Bhatere.

Elaborate security arrangements. Were being made in a bid to ensure free and fair elections in this naxal-affected constituency.

More than 10 companies of the Central Reserved Police Force and state's Special Armed Force would be deployed.

UNI

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