Counting of votes for Jhabua Assembly bypoll in Madhya Pradesh will be held on Thursday.

District Collector and Returning Officer Prabal Sipaha said the counting would start at 8 am at Polytechnic College campus in Jhabua.

About 62 per cent voters exercised their franchise during the polling on Monday for this assembly seat, where the ruling Congress and opposition BJP are locked in a keen contest.

“The counting will be completed in 26 rounds amid tight security and under the surveillance of CCTV cameras,” said Sipaha.

While the main contestants are senior Congress leader Kantilal Bhuria and the BJP’s Bhanu Bhuria who is making his electoral debut, three independents — Kalyan Singh Damor, Neelesh Damor and Rameshwar Singhar — are also in the fray.

The BJP’s GS Damor had defeated Vikrant Bhuria of the Congress in the assembly polls last year.

Damor made Vikrant’s father Kantilal Bhuria bite the dust in the subsequent Lok Sabha election from Ratlam seat.

As Damor resigned as MLA after winning the Lok Sabha election, by-election became necessary.

The Congress, which enjoys a slim majority in the Assembly, is keen to wrest the seat from BJP.

“Congress is going to win due to state government’s work in the last nine months. Developmental works are being carried out and job opportunities have been created due to increasing industrial development. All this will lead to a Congress victory,” claimed the party spokesman Pankaj Chaturvedi.

BJP spokesman Rajnish Agrawal said, “Congress candidate has a long history of non-performance. The Congress government in the state has stopped several welfare schemes launched by the previous BJP government. So the BJP will win.”

The Congress had won this seat, reserved for Scheduled Tribes, ten times since 1952. But the BJP breached the stronghold in 2013 and retained it in the 2018 polls too.