Voting for the Marwahi assembly bypoll in Chhattisgarh began on Tuesday morning amid tight security and COVID-19 protocols in place, an official said.
Polling began at 8 am and will end at 6 pm and all COVID-19-related guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India are being followed, the official said.
The tribal-dominated Marwahi seat is witnessing a straight fight between the ruling Congress and opposition BJP.
The bypoll for the Scheduled Tribes (ST)-reserved constituency was necessitated following the death of sitting JCC (J) legislator and former chief minister Ajit Jogi on May 29.
The seat, a bastion of the Jogi family for several years now, is witnessing a fight between the Congress and the BJP after the nomination papers of Amit Jogi, the son of Ajit Jogi, and his wife Richa were rejected by the returning officer, who said their caste certificates were invalid.
A total of 1,90,907 voters, comprising 93,694 males, 97,209 females and four from the third gender, are eligible to vote, the official said.
“As many as 286 polling stations have been set up, of which 126 have been categorised as sensitive,” the official said.
“COVID-19-infected voters can cast their votes in the last one hour of polling,” he said.
Around 1,400 security personnel have been deployed for the bypoll, results of which will be announced on November 10.
Though eight candidates are in the fray, the main fight is between Congress nominee K K Dhruw, a former medical officer from the area, and BJP”s Gambheer Singh, an ex- professor of the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Medical College, Raipur.
The strength of the Chhattisgarh Assembly is 90.
The other candidates in the fray are Ritu Pandram of the Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP), Dr Urmila Singh Marko of the Rashtriya Gondwana Party, Pushpa Khelan Korche of the Ambedkarite Party of India, Beersingh Nagesh of the Bharatiya Tribal Party, Lakshman Porte of the Bharatiya Sarvajan Hitay Samaj Party and independent Sonmati Salam.
In the 2018 Assembly polls, Ajit Jogi had polled 74,041 votes in Marwahi, beating the BJP”s Archana Porte by a margin of 46,462 votes, with the Congress coming third.