Voting underway in 54 assembly seats across 10 states, strict COVID-19 norms in place

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    Thousands of people on Tuesday battled corona fears and queued up outside polling booths across 10 states to vote in by-elections to 54 assembly constituencies, including 28 in Madhya Pradesh where the BJP is locked in a high-stakes contest with the Congress to save its government.

    COVID-19 guidelines were in place as the first pan-India electoral exercise in the pandemic began with election staff in personal protective equipment (PPE) suits, more polling booths to prevent overcrowding, thermal screening, sanitisers and masks and gloves for voters as well as markings to ensure social distancing, officials said

    Voting started at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm, except in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Nagaland. The last hour has been reserved for voters who have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said

    The votes will be counted on November 10

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to vote in large numbers

    “Today, there are bypolls taking place in various places across India. I urge those voting in these seats to vote in large numbers and strengthen the festival of democracy,” he said in a tweet

    BJP president J P Nadda also urged voters to come out in large numbers to exercise their franchise

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