Campaign ends in Budhni
Budhni(MP), May 1 : Starting on a high-pitch note, campaign for the Budhni Assembly byelection which will also decide the fate of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as the BJP nominee ends here this evening.
Amid complaints about rampant violation of the model code of conduct and alleged misuse of official machinery, the Election Commission ordered removal of District Returning Officer and Superintendent of Police and postponed the polling from April 24 to May 23.
Besides Mr Chouhan, Mr Rajkumar Patel(Congress), Mr Gulzar Singh Markam (Gondwana Gantantra Party), Mr Narmada Prasad Yadav (Samajwadi Party) and 12 independents are pitted in this constituency spread over more than 350 villages.
As many as 1,74,819 electorate, including 82,498 female, are listed to exercise their franchise through EVMs at 189 polling stations, each manned by at least one Central Government employee.
Two companies of the CRPF and four companies of Special Armed Force, besides district police will be deployed on election duty while 80 booths have been declared ''sensitive.'' Counting will take place on May 6.
The main contestants, Mr Chouhan and Mr Patel, both elected from this constituency once earlier, belong to the dominant farming community 'Kirar', having a total strength of 20,000. About 30,000 strong tribal community is also a decisive factor. Before the Election Commission cracked the whip, the backward constituency was covered with posters and banners and mike-fitted convoys of vehicles skirted the interiors. Several state ministers and legislators made their beeline to the area and nearly round the clock power supply was also provided.
Along with development, power cut, enforced in Budhni following complaints of preferential treatment as compared to other rural areas of the state, emerged as a main issue. The campaign was peaceful.
Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj campaigned for Mr Chouhan, while Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh and union ministers Suresh Pachouri and Kantilal Bhuria joined Mr Patel's campaign trail.
Expelled BJP leader Uma Bharti lent her support to Mr Markam by touring the area for a day.
Budhni seat fell vacant following the resignation by BJP's Rajendra Singh to facilitate Mr Chouhan's entry into the Assembly.
He is still the Lok Sabha member from Vidisha.