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70 pc turnout for Kota bypoll in Chhattisgarh

Written by: Staff
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Kota, Dec 4 (UNI) Barring isolated clashes, an estimated 70 per cent of a 1.46-lakh electorate exercised their franchise today during a bypoll in Chhattisgarh's Kota assembly constituency.

Voting began on a dull note but picked up in the first few hours with several women voters turning up. The high-profile contest is witnessing former chief minister Ajit Jogi's wife Renu (Congress) and Mr Bhupendra Singh Thakur (Bharatiya Janata Party) locked in a multicornered contest.

Despite tight security by the police and central paramilitary forces, Congress and BJP workers clashed at a few places, leaving four persons injured. The victims, reportedly hailing from Gwalior in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, were referred to the Chhattisgarh Institute of Medical Sciences at Bilaspur.

The byelection was necessitated following the demise of Congress veteran Rajendra Prasad Shukla, who was the first speaker of the Chhattisgarh Assembly and a former speaker of undivided Madhya Pradesh's vidhan sabha.

The rural constituency witnessed intense campaigning with both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress mobilising all resources at their command to win the seat, which has been a traditional stronghold of the Congress as its candidates won all 12 elections conducted here since 1952.

For Chief Minister Raman Singh this bypoll is prestigious as a BJP victory would enable him to further strengthen his position within the organisation. Besides, it is being felt in political circles that the outcome would be considered as a referendum on the three-year-long BJP rule.

Congress Working Committee Member Jogi has very high stakes as he managed to secure a party ticket for his wife. A victory would mean that he would emerge more powerful within the faction-ridden state Congress.

Counting will take place on December 7.

UNI XC JJ AC 1911

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