Amid minor issues at some booths, voting was largely peaceful in the Khairagarh assembly bypoll in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday. The turnout was around 78% by 5pm.
Turning the bypoll into a prestige issue, Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel had called it a virtual semi-final ahead of the 2023 assembly elections and was camping in the constituency for a major part of campaigning. He had also deployed a battery of his ministers to supervise the canvassing process.
The polling started at 7am on Tuesday and concluded peacefully around 5pm with long queues witnessed at several booths.
For the bypolls, the administration had constituted 291 polling centres and around 2.11 lakh people were expected to cast their votes.
Including candidates of the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, and Janta Congress Chhattisgarh, ten aspirants were trying their luck in Khairagarh. Prominent among them were Yashoda Verma of Congress, BJP’s Komal Janghel, Narendra Soni of Janta Congress Chhattisgarh, and Mohan Bharti of Rashtriya Jansabha Party.
CM Baghel continued to exude confidence even after the polling and said, “I have been making whirlwind tours and I am confident that the Congress will get the blessings of the public.” State Congress chief Mohan Markam went a step ahead, saying the BJP has already lost and the party’s Chhattisgarh incharge is aware of this.
BJP leader and former chief minister Dr Raman Singh, though, asserted that his candidate will win the bypoll, adding that the Congress only remembered Khairagarh when the election was around.
The 2018 poll was a tough battle as Janta Congress Chhattisgarh’s Devvrat Singh had defeated BJP’s Komal Jangel by a margin of merely 870 votes. Singh died in November 2021, necessitating a by-election.