By-elections were held on Thursday for seven constituencies across six states, with turnout ranging from 31.74 percent in Andheri (east) of Maharashtra to 77.55 percent in Telangana’s Munugode seat.
Until the latest reports came in, the poll rates in the other five seats were Mokama (53.45) and Gopalganj (51.48) of Bihar, Adampur (75.25) of Haryana, Gola Gokarannath (55.68) of Uttar Pradesh and Dhamnagar (66.63) of Odisha. These numbers are likely to change.
Officials said the bypolls were generally peaceful except for a few minor incidents.
Of the seven seats where bypolls are held, the BJP had three seats and the Congress two, while the Shiv Sena and the RJD had one each. The match symbolizes the fierce battle between the BJP and the regional parties.
For the bypolls in Bihar, the main contest is between the BJP and the RJD, and the main contenders for the saffron party in Haryana are Congress, INLD and AAP. In Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, the main competitions are between the BJP and the TRS, SP and the BJD respectively.
While a win in the by-polls will not affect their position in the assemblies, the sides have not taken the contest lightly and conducted a pompous campaign.
The counting of votes will take place on November 6.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi party claimed that some polling stations had been occupied by workers from the ruling BJP. However, district magistrate Mahendra Bahadur Singh ruled out the charges and said he personally visited the polling stations but found nothing.
The chairman of the Samajwadi party, Akhilesh Yadav, claimed that the police unnecessarily engaged in beatings at some polling booths and that in some places SP and Muslim voters were chased away. He also demanded an investigation into “why a BJP MLA kept wandering with envelopes full of money in their car”.
There were reports of clashes between BJD and BJP in two polling booths in Odisha’s Rameswarpur when the vote was underway, with two people injured.
The BJP is trying to keep the Gola Gokarannath seat in Uttar Pradesh and Dhamnagar in BJD-ruled Odisha and is counting on sympathy votes as it has drafted the sons of incumbent MLAs whose deaths necessitated the bypolls.
The BJP and the ruling TRS had campaigned aggressively in Munugode in Telangana, where the Congressional MLA had resigned and is competing for the saffron party’s ticket.
The Election Commission has made extensive arrangements for the polls, including the deployment of 3,366 state police and 15 companies of central security personnel in Munugode. Webcasting was done from all polling stations, officials said.
In Adampur, the by-election was necessitated after Kuldeep Bishnoi, the youngest son of former Prime Minister Bhajan Lal, resigned from the MLA and transitioned from Congress to the BJP in August. Bishnoi’s son Bhavya is now fighting as the BJP candidate.
The Adampur seat has been held by the Bhajan Lal family since 1968, with the late ex-Prime Minister representing it nine times, his wife Jasma Devi once and Kuldeep four times.
Congress, Indian National Lok Dal and Aam Aadmi Party are among the main parties contesting the bypolls.
Congress drafted former Union minister Jai Prakash, a three-time MP from Hisar and also two-time MLA.
The INLD chose congressional rebel Kurda Ram Nambardar as its candidate. The AAP drafted Satender Singh, who switched from the BJP.
Bihar saw the first election test for the Nitish Kumar-led ‘Mahagathbandhan’ government, which was formed less than three months ago after the JD(U) parted ways with the BJP.
The seats in Mokama and Gopalganj in Bihar were previously held by the RJD and BJP respectively.
The BJP is fighting from the Mokama constituency for the first time, as the saffron party had left the seat to its allies on previous occasions. Both the BJP and the RJD have placed the wives of local powerhouses in the bypolls.
BJP nominee Sonam Devi takes on RJD’s Neelam Devi, whose husband Anant Singh’s disqualification has made the by-election necessary.
Mokama has been Anant Singh’s stronghold since 2005. He won the seat twice on JD(U) tickets and Prime Minister Nitish Kumar has called on voters to support him.
Sonam Devi, wife of local powerhouse Lalan Singh who opposed Anant Singh, is a rookie. Lalan is known as a close confidant of Suraj Bhan Singh, a feared mobster turned politician who defeated Anant Singh’s older brother Dilip Singh, who was a minister in Rabri Devi’s government, in the 2000 assembly elections.
In Gopalganj, BJP entered Kusum Devi, wife of late party MLA Subhash Singh. The RJD nominated Mohan Gupta, while Indira Yadav, wife of Lalu Yadav’s brother-in-law Sadhu Yadav, is running for Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Shiv Sena’s Rutuja Latke is expected to comfortably win the Andheri East Assembly constituency in Mumbai after the BJP withdrew from the contest, the first after the recent split in the Shiv Sena following an uprising by Eknath Shinde, who replaced Thackeray as the prime minister from Maharashtra.
The NCP and Congress have supported her candidacy.
The by-election was necessitated by the death of Latke’s husband and Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke in May.
The Gola Gokarannath seat in Uttar Pradesh was released after the death of BJP MLA Arvind Giri on September 6. With the BSP and Congress staying out of the polls, there seems to be a direct battle between the BJP and the Samajwadi party.
The BJP has deployed Aman Giri, the son of Arvind Giri, while the SP candidate is former Gola MLA Vinay Tiwari.
The BJD has drafted Abanti Das, the only woman among the total of five candidates in Dhamnagar. The death of BJP MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi necessitated the bypoll. The saffron party, which counts on sympathy votes, has raised Sethi’s son Suryabanshi Suraj.
The BJD’s official candidate faces a rebel while his former MLA Rajendra Das is up in arms as an Independent.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)
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