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Counting for crucial Rae Bareli bypoll on May 11

Written by: Staff
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Rae Bareli, May 10: Counting for the crucial Rae Bareli bypoll, from where AICC president Sonia Gandhi is seeking re-election, would take place tomorrow.

Election Commission officials said here the counting would begin at 0800 hrs and final results were expected to be declared by 1400 hrs.

Despite the EC increasing poll timings by an hour, polling on Monday had been a poor 42.6 per cent with heatwave and marriages keeping most electorate away from voting booths.

The poll turnout was less than the 2004 general elections when Ms Gandhi was elected from the seat for the first time.

In the 2004 polls, the voter turnout was 48 per cent. Congress had been trying for a higher voter turnout to ensure her election by a record margin.

Last time, Ms Gandhi had won by a margin of around 2,49,000 votes with 58.75 per cent of voters casting ballot in her favour.

There are a total of 13,61,411 voters in Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituency and women amount to a little less then 50 per cent of the electorate.

Other prominent candidates in the fray include BJP's Vinay Katiyar, SP's Rajkumar Chaudhury and Apna Dal's Prabha Singh Lodh.

Ms Lodh is former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti's nominee contestingb on an Apna Dal ticket.

Ms Gandhi is seeking re-election following her resignation following the office of profit controversy.

On March 23, she had resigned from the LS seat and from the chairpersonship of National Advisory Council (NAC) after the Opposition, mainly the BJP and Samajwadi Party, charged her with holding offices of profit, being a LS member.

She is tipped to win the election by a landslide margin and expected to increase her lead on the other candidates from the victory she got during 2004 general elections.

In the 2004 LS polls, SP had finished second with 19.94 per cent votes polled, followed by the BSP. BJP was relegated to third slot.

This time BJP, which held the seat only twice in 1996 and 1998, is making an all-out effort to improve its performance.

Despite torrid weather conditions, electioneering had been quite hectic. To beat the heat, leaders of various parties and candidates fan out into interior villages and the stress is more on street corner meetings and door-to-door contacts.

Congress star campaigner Rahul Gandhi had forged ahead of others in wooing voters by touring remote and dusty villages, appealing to women in particular to turn out in large numbers and vote for his mother Sonia Gandhi.

She herself addressed a series of election meetings across the constituency during her two-day visit to Rae Bareli.

UNI

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