Chandigarh, May 31 (PTI) Congress candidate Hardev Singh Laddi was leading by more than 3,000 votes over his nearest rival Akali nominee Naib Singh Kohar after the completion of two rounds of the counting for the Shahkot assembly constituency bypoll. Also Read - SVPUAT Recruitment 2021: Apply for 21 Professor, Associate Professor and Other Posts at svbpmeerut.ac.in

Laddi was leading by 3,353 votes over his rival Kohar, while Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Rattan Singh Kakkar Kalan was way behind, said an official. Also Read - Punjab Municipal Election Results 2021: Congress Wins Big in Urban Body Polls, Returns to Bathinda After 53 Years

The counting of votes started at 8 am in Jalandhar, amid tight security arrangements in the presence of an Election Observer, candidates of the political parties and their representatives. Also Read - SAD Chief Sukhbir Badal's Vehicle Attacked in Punjab, 3 Workers Suffer Bullet Injuries | WATCH

The counting centre has been set up at the office of the Director, Land Records in Jalandhar.

The counting for the Shahkot by-election would be held in 17 rounds, the official said adding that the result was expected to be declared by afternoon.

Three-tier security arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful counting of vote, the official said.

More than 300 police personnel have been deployed at the counting centre for the smooth and hassle free counting process, he added.

The Shahkot bypoll was necessitated after the demise of Akali MLA Ajit Singh Kohar in February this year.

Over 76 per cent of 1.72 lakh voters had exercised their franchise on May 28 for the seat where the Congress, SAD and AAP were locked in a triangular battle.

The Shahkot assembly constituency, considered an Akali bastion, had recorded 78.60 per cent polling during 2017 Assembly polls.

For ruling party Congress, the bypoll was being seen as the barometer for the popularity of the 14-month-old Amarinder Singh led state government. Congress is confident of maintaining the winning momentum by wresting seat from Akalis.

However, opposition Akali Dal is striving to retain its pocket borough from where late Kohar was elected five-times. The SAD had accused the ruling party of misusing official machinery against political opponents.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which faced a humiliating defeat in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll and civic polls, is desperately looking for the victory.

Ruling Congress had fielded Hardev Singh Laddi while Akali Dal had given ticket to Ajit Singh Kohar’s son Naib Singh Kohar. The AAP had nominated Rattan Singh Kakkar Kalan for the bypoll. A total of 12 candidates were in the fray.

The Election Commission had used EVMs and VVPATs at all the 236 polling stations.

The Congress had won 77 seats in the 117-member Punjab Vidhan Sabha during 2017 Assembly polls while the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance managed to win 18 seats. The AAP won 20 seats while Lok Insaf Party had bagged two seats.PTI CHS VSD RCJ RCJ

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.