U’khand: 76% turnout in Sitarganj bypoll



Dehra Dun: A record 76.38 per cent polling was on Sunday registered in the Sitarganj assembly byelection where Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna is facing a straight contest against the BJP.

No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the area, chief electoral officer Radha Raturi said.

Despite intermittent rains throughout the day, heavy polling was witnessed with people lining up in serpentine queues at polling stations. BJP MLA Kiran Mandal had quit the seat to allow the Congress chief minister to contest, raising hackles of the opposition.

The counting of votes will take place on July 11. Bahuguna is locked in a straight contest against BJP's Prakash Pant, who had held the posts of cabinet minister and Speaker of the assembly during the tenure of previous BJP governments.

Pant had lost the assembly election from Pithoragarh early this year.

The election is likely to be a close contest, observers said. Both the main political parties -- Congress and BJP relied only on the state leadership for campaigning and national leaders were not invited to address public meetings.

Along with state PCC Chief Yashpal Arya, Bahuguna himself shouldered the responsibility of campaigning.

The two leaders have been camping in the constituency for most of the time ever since the electioneering began.

For BJP, the campaign was spearheaded by former chief minister and BJP national vice President Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, state BJP President Bishan Singh Chufal and leader of the opposition Ajay Bhatt.

Nearly 1500 personnel including four companies of central paramilitary force and three platoons of PAC were deployed in the constituency for security purpose. Besides, polling staff comprising nearly 600 people were put on duty on 116 polling booths, Raturi said.

There are a total of 91,247 electorate including 42,447 women voters in Sitarganj constituency.

PTI