The results of the bye-elections to 51 Assembly seats and two Lok Sabha constituencies across 17 states and one Union Territory will be declared on Thursday. Thirty of these 51 Assembly seats are currently held by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, 12 by the Congress and the rest by regional parties.
The maximum numbers of seats that held the bye-polls were in Uttar Pradesh where 11 MLAs will be elected. This was followed by six seats in Gujarat, five each in Bihar and Kerala, four each in Assam and Punjab, three in Sikkim, two each in Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, and one seat each in Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Meghalaya and Telangana.
Apart from this, bye-polls for the Satara and Samastipur Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra and Bihar, respectively, were also held on Monday.
The bye-polls this time are being keenly watched as the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party contested separately after the debacle in the Lok Sabha elections. Eight of the 11 seats were earlier held by the BJP and one by its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal). The SP and BSP had one seat each.
The BJP, BSP, SP and the Congress have fielded candidates in all the 11 seats. A total of 109 candidates are in fray for the bye-polls to the Assembly seats of Gangoh, Rampur, Ighlas, Lucknow Cantonment, Govindnagar, Manikpur, Pratapgarh, Zaidpur, Jalalpur, Balha and Ghosi.
The bye-polls were necessitated after a number of MLAs moved to the Lok Sabha. The Assembly constituency of Ghosi fell vacant after sitting MLA Phagu Chauhan was appointed the governor of Bihar.
Of the 11 seats, the Rampur Assembly constituency was the most talked about contest. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav addressed only one election rally for the bye-polls and that was in the Rampur constituency. He campaigned for Rajya Sabha member Tazeen Fatima, who is also the wife of Samajwadi Party heavyweight Azam Khan. Khan got elected to the Lok Sabha in May by defeating his arch-rival and BJP candidate Jaya Prada in a volatile contest. The BJP has fielded Bharat Bhooshan from the seat.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati did not address a single election rally this time. Her party said she doesn’t believe in campaigning for the bye-elections. On the other hand, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and Congress Uttar Pradesh President Ajay Kumar Lallu campaigned in all the Assembly seats where bye-polls were held.
Bye-polls in Gujarat were held in Tharad, Radhanpur, Kheralu, Bayad, Amraiwadi and Lunawada Assembly constituencies. Four out of these six Assembly constituencies were held by the saffron party.
A total of 42 candidates are in the fray. The bye-elections were necessitated in Tharad, Kheralu, Lunawada and Amraiwadi seats after the sitting BJP MLAs were elected to Parliament. In Radhanpur and Bayad, sitting Congress legislators Alpesh Thakor and Dhavalsinh Zala deflected to the BJP in July and sought re-election from their respective seats. The Congress fielded Raghu Desai, one of its senior workers, against Thakor in Radhanpur. Jasubhai Patel is up against Zala in Bayad constituency.
The bye-polls to five Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar is seen as the semi-finals for the Assembly elections due next year.
The Samastipur Lok Sabha bye-poll was necessitated after the death of Lok Janshakti Party chief Ramvilas Paswan’s brother Ramchandra Paswan in July. The LJP has fielded Ramchandra Paswan’s son Prince Raj against Congress nominee Ashok Kumar. In the May elections, Ramchandra Paswan had defeated Kumar by over 2.5 lakh votes.
Voting also took place in the Assembly constituencies of Kishanganj, Nathnagar, Belhar, Simri Bakhtiyarpur and Daraunda as the sitting MLAs became members of Parliament. A total of 51 candidates are in the fray, out of which 43 are for the five Assembly seats and eight for the Lok Sabha seat. The ruling Janata Dal (United) fielded candidates in four seats while the BJP contested only for the Kishanganj seat.
The Assembly constituencies of Manjeswaram, Ernakulam, Aroor, Konni and Vattiyoorkavu held bye-polls on Monday. The Vattiyoorkavu, Konni, Aroor and Ernakulam seats had fallen vacant after the MLAs were elected to the Lok Sabha. The bye-polls to the Manjeswaram seat was necessitated after the death of Indian Union Muslim League MLA PB Abdul Razak in October 2018.
Voting on Monday was affected by the turn of the weather, forcing many to brave the flooded streets and submerged polling booths to cast their votes.
The ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front, Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front and BJP-led National Democratic Alliance have fielded candidates for all the five seats. A total of 35 candidates contested the elections.
The UDF, which won 19 of 20 parliamentary seats in the April-May elections, is hoping to win this round of bye-polls. The coalition held four of the five seats, and the fifth, Aroor, is held by CPI(M) MLA AM Arif. However, LDF candidate Mani C Kappan won the bye-election last month in the Pala Assembly constituency, which is considered a UDF bastion.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP and the Congress brushed their political rivalry aside to unanimously back independent candidate Chakat Aboh, also supported by other national and regional parties, for the Khonsa West seat.
Aboh is the widow of Tirong Aboh, who had won the seat in the Assembly election on a National People’s Party ticket. Suspected extremists had gunned him down with 10 others on May 21, two days before the election results were declared.
Aboh’s sole rival Azet Hamtok is also an independent candidate.
The Jhabua Assembly bye-polls in Madhya Pradesh is a crucial one for the Kamal Nath-led Congress government. If ruling party is eyeing the seat in order to inch closer to a simple majority in the House. Currently, the Congress has 114 members, which is two short of simple majority in the 230-member House.
The main contestants are senior Congress leader Kantilal Bhuria and BJP’s Bhanu Bhuria, who is making his electoral debut. Three independents are also in the fray.
Earlier, the Congress won the seat, reserved for tribals, 10 times since 1952. But, the BJP wrested it in 2013 and retained it in 2018 when BJP leader GS Damor defeated Vikrant Bhuria of the Congress.
Later, Damor contested the Lok Sabha election from Ratlam seat where he defeated Vikrant Bhuria’s father Kantilal Bhuria. He subsequently resigned as MLA from Jhabua, which necessitated the bye-polls.
In Chhattisgarh, Maoist-affected Chitrakot Assembly constituency in the Bastar region went to polls on Monday.
Total six candidates are in the fray. The Congress has fielded Rajman Benzam, a local tribal leader and president of the Bastar District Congress (Rural) while the BJP has given ticket to former MLA Lachhuram Kashyap.
Deepak Baij of the Congress was the incumbent MLA but his election to Lok Sabha necessitated the bye-poll.
The Huzurnagar Assembly constituency bye-polls in Telangana will test the BJP’s claims of being the main opposition in the state against the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi.
The seat was vacated by Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee President Uttam Kumar Reddy consequent to his election as an MP from Nalgonda in the General Elections in May. TRS retained S Saidi Reddy, who had lost to Uttam Kumar Reddy in the 2018 polls by over 7,000 votes. Congress fielded former MLA N Padmavathi Reddy, the wife of Uttam Kumar Reddy. The BJP fielded Kota Rama Rao for the bye-poll.
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