Punjab: Record-high voter turnout of 37.01 percent in the Lok Sabha byelection

According to official data, a low turnout of 37.01 percent was observed in the byelection for Punjab's Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency on Thursday. According to polling officials, these figures are preliminary and could rise after the data is collated.

In Sangrur, voter participation for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections was 72.44 percent. On Thursday, voting began at 8 am and went until 6 pm.

The majority of the nine assembly segments had low attendance during the day. Data from the Election Commission's Voter Turnout App indicated that at 10.30 p.m., the provisional voter turnout was 37.01 percent. The election schedule should be extended until 7 p.m., Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had earlier urged in a tweet to the Election Commission, noting the fact that many people were working in fields until late due to the paddy-sowing season.

The Election Commission then demanded an explanation from the chief secretary of Punjab and the deputy commissioner of Sangrur, claiming that their actions amounted to an "attempt to unduly interfere in the election process and influence certain class of voters by conveying to them to expedite voting or wait for a time extension." The panel further stated that it was against the officers' actions throughout the election process.

Following Bhagwant Mann's resignation from the Lok Sabha after being chosen as an MLA in the state assembly elections earlier this year, a by-election for the seat was required. In the parliamentary elections of 2014 and 2019, he won the Sangrur seat.

In the Sangrur parliamentary seat, there are 15,69,240 eligible voters: 8,30,056 men, 7,39,140 women, and 44 people who identify as a third gender. Sixteen candidates were running, including three women. There were 1,766 polling places in total.

After an outstanding showing in the assembly elections, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is now facing its first popularity test. The byelection was held at a time when the AAP is under attack from the opposition over the state's law-and-order situation and the murder of musician Sidhu Moosewala.

On Monday, Mann engaged in vigorous campaigning and held a road show alongside AAP national leader Arvind Kejriwal to urge people to support Gurmail Singh, the party's Sangrur district chair, and assure his win. "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 chief minister had expressed confidence.

The AAP government had been under fire from Congress, the BJP, and the SAD for the "deteriorating" law and order in the state as well as the murder of Moosewala. The AAP government was criticized by the opposing parties for "unfulfilled promises."

Dalvir Singh Goldy, a former Dhuri MLA, is the candidate for the main opposition Congress, while Kewal Dhillon, a former Barnala MLA who joined the party on June 4, is the candidate for the BJP. The SAD has fielded Kamaldeep Kaur, the sister of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who was found guilty in the murder of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.

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