Assembly bye-elections took place in four constituencies on Monday – Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand, and Karimpur, Kaliaganj and Kharagpur Sadar in West Bengal. The results will be declared on Thursday.
The voter turnout in the three seats in West Bengal was 75.58%, while it was 47.48% in the single Assembly seat of Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand, according to the Election Commission.
These bye-polls were not held along with the bye-elections to 51 Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats on October 21 because of requests from the two state governments. Uttarakhand had cited local body elections and West Bengal had cited Durga Puja festivities.
In West Bengal, more than seven lakh voters picked among 18 candidates. These bye-elections are a test for the ruling Trinamool Congress’ strength in the state, and also for the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has emerged as the main Opposition in the state ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections.
The Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front had reached an agreement to field candidates in the three seats. The Congress fielded candidates in the Kaliaganj and Kharagpur Sadar seats, and the Left party fielded its candidate in the Karimpur constituency, The Indian Express reported.
In Karimpur, senior BJP leader and party’s candidate Jay Prakash Majumdar was allegedly beaten up by the Trinamool Congress activists in Phipulkhola area of Nadia district as he was about to enter a polling booth, PTI reported. He said the incident was a “clear” sign of the “end of democracy” in West Bengal. Majumdar alleged that the Trinamool activists were “false voters”, who had come to rig the election.
“It will not demoralise me and I will continue to visit all the booths,” Majumdar, the vice president of the state unit of the BJP, said. “I have complained to the Election Commission.” BJP leader Mukul Roy also wrote to the poll body to ask for immediate intervention in the bye-polls, ANI reported. “Today 50 TMC goons surrounded, kicked and pushed BJP’s Jay Prakash Majumdar,” his letter said.
“The manner in which TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee is resorting to political violence to win the bypolls shows her jitteriness and the EC should take cognisance of it,” BJP’s national spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said, according to PTI.
However, the TMC denied the allegations, and said locals attacked Majumdar as they were angry with him for “vitiating” the election atmosphere.
Kharagpur Sadar and Karimpur were vacated after sitting MLAs Dilip Ghosh and Mahua Moitra won the Lok Sabha elections in May. The Kaliaganj seat became vacant after the death of Congress MLA Pramatha Nath Ray on May 31.
Uttarkhand’s Pithoragarh seat was vacated after sitting MLA Prakash Pant’s demise in June. More than one lakh voters will cast their vote at 145 polling booths.
Out of the 51 Assembly seats in 17 states where bye-polls were held, the BJP alone won 17 and the Congress secured 11. Previously, 30 of the 51 Assembly seats were held by the saffron party, 12 by the Congress and the rest by regional parties.
In the fray
BJP’s Prem Chandra Jha ran from the West Midnapore district seat of Kharagpur Sadar against Chittaranjan Mandal, the Congress-Left alliance nominee. The Trinamool Congress fielded Pradip Sarkar. In Kaliaganj, the Trinamool Congress’ Tapan Deb Sinha contested against BJP’s Kamal Chandra Sarkar and the Congress-Left alliance candidate Dhitashree Ray.
Karimpur, which is in Nadia district, Left-Congress candidate Golam Rabbi stood against Trinamool Congress’ Bimalendu Singha Roy and the saffron party’s Joy Prakash Majumdar.
In Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh constituency, Pant’s wife Chandra Pant was fielded to retain the BJP seat. Samajwadi Party’s Lalit Mohan Bhatt was fielded from the seat, and Congress fielded Anju Lunthi.