Just over 36 per cent of the electorate cast their vote till 5 p.m. — an hour before the closing time, on Thursday, in the by-poll of Punjab’s Sangrur parliamentary constituency where the turnout was 72.40 per cent in 2019.

Sensing poor turnout, two-time Sangrur MP and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann appealed to the Election Commission to extend the polling time till 7 p.m., saying people in rural areas were busy with paddy transplantation.

Amid the opposition heat over deteriorating law and order situation and the killing of famed singer Sidhu Moosewala, 22.21 per cent voter turnout was recorded in Sangrur, the stronghold of Punjab’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), till 1 p.m.

The counting of ballots will take place on June 26.

A total of 15, 69, 240 voters were eligible to exercise their franchise at 1, 766 polling booths of which 296 were vulnerable.

The by-poll for AAP-stronghold Sangrur was necessitated following the resignation of Mann, who won the Assembly election in February from Dhuri constituency, and became the Chief Minister.

In a five-cornered contest, the AAP fielded Mann’s confidant Gurmail Singh, 38, while death row convict Balwant Singh Rajoana’s foster sister Kamaldeep Kaur, 44, is in the fray on the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) ticket.

The other key contenders are BJP’s Kewal Dhillon, 72, and Dalvir Singh Goldy, 40, of the Congress. Both are former legislators.

Mann had won his first election as Sangrur MP in 2014 with a record margin of over 2.10 lakh votes defeating SAD candidate Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. At that time the turnout was 77.21 per cent.

In 2019, Mann was the lone AAP MP in Parliament and he had defeated the then Congress candidate Kewal Singh Dhillon by more than 1.1 lakh votes.

AAP candidate Gurmail Singh said after witnessing the trend of polling and enthusiasm of AAP workers, it is evident that the victory of AAP.

In a statement, he said the people of Sangrur voted for AAP after considering the pro-people work and initiatives taken by the AAP government under the leadership of Chief Minister Mann in the past three months.

In the 2022 Assembly elections, AAP recorded a thumping win by claiming 92 of the Assembly’s 117 seats. The ruling Congress won 18, down from 77 in 2017.

All the nine Vidhan Sabha constituencies coming under the Sangrur parliamentary seat were won by AAP MLAs with a record mandate.

Sangrur by-poll: 36% turnout recorded till 5 p.m

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