A low turnout of 37.01 per cent was recorded in the bypoll to Punjab’s Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency on Thursday, according to official figures. Polling officials said these are provisional numbers and they may increase once the data is compiled.
Sangrur had recorded 72.44 per cent voter turnout in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The polling on Thursday started at 8 am and continued till 6 pm.
Most of the nine assembly segments recorded a poor turnout during the day. At 10.30 pm, the provisional voter turnout was 37.01 per cent, data in the Election Commission’s Voter Turnout App showed. Earlier in a tweet, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had demanded from the Election Commission that the voting time be extended till 7 pm, citing that many people were working in fields until late due to the paddy-sowing season.
Following this, the Election Commission asked Punjab’s chief secretary and the deputy commissioner of Sangrur to explain why they sought an extension of polling time towards closing hours, saying it amounted to “attempt of unduly interfering in the election process and influence certain class of voters by conveying them to expedite voting or wait for time extension”. The commission condemns such behaviour by the officers during the election process, it added.
The bypoll to the seat was necessitated following the resignation of Bhagwant Mann from the Lok Sabha after he was elected as an MLA in the state assembly elections earlier this year. He had won the Sangrur seat in the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections.
There are 15,69,240 eligible voters — 8,30,056 men, 7,39,140 women and 44 belonging to the third gender — in the Sangrur parliamentary constituency. Sixteen candidates, including three women, were in the fray. As many as 1,766 polling stations had been set up.
The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is facing its first test of popularity after its impressive performance in the assembly polls. The bypoll was held at a time when the AAP is facing the opposition heat over the law-and-order scenario in the state and the killing of singer Sidhu Moosewala.
Mann campaigned extensively and also took out a road show with AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal on Monday, urging the voters to ensure the victory of Gurmail Singh, the party’s Sangrur district in charge. The chief minister had expressed confidence that “the revolutionary people of Sangrur will once again vote for a common man and the AAP’s Gurmail Singh will win the bypoll with a thumping majority”.
The Congress, the BJP and the SAD had hit out at the AAP government over “deteriorating” law and order in the state and also raised the issue of Moosewala’s killing. The opposition parties also slammed the AAP government over “unfulfilled promises”.
The main opposition Congress has fielded former Dhuri MLA Dalvir Singh Goldy while the BJP has fielded former Barnala MLA Kewal Dhillon, who had joined the party on June 4. Kamaldeep Kaur, sister of Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict in former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s assassination case, has been fielded by the SAD.
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann is also in the fray.