A total of 14 candidates, including Olympian wrestler and BJP nominee Yogeshwar Dutt, are contesting the Baroda assembly bypoll in Haryana, where over 46 per cent polling was registered till 4 pm on Tuesday.
Dutt, who cast his vote in the morning after performing ‘puja’ at his wrestling academy, is pitted against Congress’ Indu Raj Narwal. The Baroda seat has been a stronghold of the Congress party whose MLA Krishan Hooda had won the seat in the 2009, 2014 and 2019 assembly polls.
His death in April necessitated the bypoll, which started at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm.
About 1.81 lakh people are eligible to vote in the by-election. The voter turnout was 46.23 per cent till 4 pm, according to data by the Election Commission.
A total of 280 polling booths have been set up, of which 151 have been categorised as “vulnerable”.
Security personnel, including three companies of paramilitary force, have been deployed to ensure a peaceful bypoll, officials said.
Voters are being screened through thermal scanners at polling booths in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Masks and gloves are also being given to voters and they have been asked to maintain physical distancing at the polling stations.
Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar appealed to Baroda voters to ensure maximum participation in the voting process.
“In democracy, each vote is valuable and your one vote is also valuable. I appeal to all of you to participate in the ‘utsav’ of democracy with your family in large numbers and cast votes,” Khattar tweeted.
Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, in a tweet, also urged voters to exercise their franchise by following Covid-19 related safety precautions.
BJP candidate Yogeshwar Dutt cast his vote in the morning. Before exercising his franchise, the wrestler-turned-politician performed ‘puja’ at his academy.
Talking to reporters, Olympian wrestler Dutt appealed to people to cast their votes and said that his objective was to serve people.
Elders, women and youth started coming to polling booths after voting began in the morning.
The ruling BJP has fielded wrestler-turned-politician Dutt, who is also backed by saffron ally JJP.
The opposition Congress has fielded former Sonipat Zila Parishad member Indu Raj Narwal and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) has put its money on Joginder Malik.
Seven independents and four candidates belonging to other parties, including former Kurukshetra MP Raj Kumar Saini who heads the Loktantra Suraksha Party, are in the fray from the constituency.
There are a total of 1,80,529 voters, including service voters. Out of which, 99,726 are men, 80,801 women and two transgenders, the officials said.