Over 70% voter turnout was recorded on Monday till 5 pm in Haryana’s Jind Assembly constituency where bye-election were held to elect an MLA, PTI reported. The bye-election is being considered a high-stakes one as it comes just months ahead of the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the state.

The polling began at 7 am on Monday amid tight security. The bye-election was necessitated after former legislator Hari Chand Middha of the Indian National Lok Dal died in August. Around 1.7 lakh people are eligible to cast heir vote in the bye-election, PTI reported. The result will be declared on January 31.

The bye-poll is being seen as both a referendum on the Manohar Lal Khattar government in the state as well as a semi-final ahead of the upcoming General Elections.

In the fray

As many as 21 candidates are in the fray for the bye-election. The Congress has fielded Randeep Singh Surjewala, who is in charge of the party’s communications wing and the party’s sitting MLA from Haryana’s Kaithal seat, while the BJP has fielded Krishna Midha, the son of former legislator Hari Chand Midha.

The Indian National Lok Dal has fielded Umed Singh Redhu, while the newly-formed Jannayak Janata Party has fielded Digvijay Singh Chautala, the son former INLD leader Ajay Chautala. Another new party, the Loktantra Suraksh Party, has fielded Vinod Arshi.

Election officials said 158 polling stations have been set up in the constituency. Around 3,000 police personnel and 500 Home Guards, a company each of the Central Reserve Police Force and the Rapid Action Force have been deployed to ensure the polling process is peaceful, according to The Hindu.

Digvijay Chautala appeared confident that his party would emerge victorious. “People will see a positive change in politics,” ANI quoted him as saying. “Politics that will rise above religion, caste and creed.”