Voting for bye-elections in Jasdan Assembly seat in Gujarat and Kolebira in Jharkhand began on Thursday morning, PTI reported. Votes will be counted on December 23.

The polls assume significance after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s defeat in the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. The party is in power in Gujarat as well as Jharkhand.

The bye-election in Jasdan in Rajkot district was necessitated after sitting Congress MLA Kunvarji Bavaliya, who had won the seat in the 2017 Assembly elections, joined the BJP in July. He also resigned from the state Assembly, and was given a berth in Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s Cabinet.

Bavaliya is a popular Koli leader and will bank on support from his community, which has a large presence in the constituency, to get re-elected. Nineteen candidates are in the fray, but the contest is likely to be between Bavaliya and Congress candidate Avsar Nakiya, a district panchayat member. Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and the party’s Gujarat in-charge Rajeev Satav had campaigned for Nakiya.

The Kolebira seat was vacated after Jharkhand Party MLA Enos Ekka lost his membership upon his conviction in a murder case in July. His wife Menan Ekka is contesting the election on a Jharkhand Party ticket. Other candidates in the fray include the BJP’s Basant Soreng and Congress’s Bixel Kongadi.

Enos Ekka was a minister in three state governments between 2005 and 2008. He was sentenced to life for his alleged involvement in the abduction of a teacher, Manoj Kumar, in November 2014.