The counting of votes for bye-elections to 58 Assembly constituencies across 11 states began at 8 am on Tuesday, PTI reported. Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are among the states being keenly watched.
Officials said the Election Commission of India has restricted the number of people who can be present in the counting halls and extensive measures have been taken to ensure physical distancing.
At 11.27 pm, the Bharatiya Janata Party had won 16 seats and was leading in three of the total 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh, according to the Election Commission of India. The Congress, on the other hand, has won seven seats so far, and was ahead in two.
The BJP secured victory in the Gwalior constituency, a Jyotiraditya Scindia stronghold, by a margin of 33,123 votes. The saffron party’s Imarti Devi lost to Congress’ Suresh Raje by 7,633 votes.
Meanwhile, state minister Narottam Mishra took a dig Digvijaya Singh, saying that if the Congress leader was questioning the electronic machine machines, it meant that the BJP was winning the bye-polls, reported ANI. The Congress leader had on November 3, the day of the bye-polls, raised questions on the use of EVMs in India, saying the device was prone to hacking, according to PTI.
Counting is being held in 19 districts. A total of 355 candidates, including 12 ministers, are in the fray for bye-polls to 28 seats in the state.
The results of bye-polls to 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh will decide the fate of the seven-month-old Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. The numbers seem to be in favour of Chouhan as his government needs to win only nine seats in the 230-member Assembly to cross the halfway mark on its own, compared to 28 for the Congress.
The polls are also being projected as a prestige battle between former Chief Minister Kamal Nath and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who resigned from the state Assembly on March 10 this year, leading to the fall of the Congress government and the BJP regaining power after a gap of 15 months. Elections were necessitated after 22 sitting MLAs and supporters of Scindia also switched to the saffron party. Sixteen of the 28 seats are being contested in the Gwalior and Chambal regions, believed to be a stronghold of the Scindias.
The state’s campaign was marred by caustic remarks, with Kamal Nath being censured by the Election Commission for using a derogatory term for BJP candidate Imarti Devi. The poll panel had issued a notice to Nath on October 21 for calling Devi an “item”. The electoral body also removed Nath as a “star campaigner” for repeated poll code violations, but the Supreme Court stayed this order.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that the results were “powered by the progressive agenda” of the Chouhan government.
In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP won six of the seven seats, while the Samajwadi Party secured the remaining one. SP’s Lucky Yadav won with 4,632 votes in Malhani after initially trailing behind Independent candidate Dhananjaya Singh. In the closely watched seat of Bangermau – where former BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar vacated after being convicted of rape and murder – the saffron party’s candidate Shrikant Katiyar won with 31,398 votes. In 2017, Sengar was accused of raping a woman who was a minor at the time. A life term was imposed on him in December. The BJP won the seats of Naugawan Sadat, Bulandshahr, Tundla, Bangermau, Ghatampur and Deoria.
The BJP had won all the seats, except for Malhani in Jaunpur district, in the 2017 Assembly polls.
Naugaon Sadat seat fell vacant after the death of state Cabinet minister and former cricketer Chetan Chauhan. Ghatampur bye-polls in Kanpur Nagar district was necessitated due to the death of state minister Kamal Rani Varun. Both ministers had died of the coronavirus.
The Tundla seat fell vacant after its MLA SP Singh Baghel was elected to Lok Sabha. The elections also marked the electoral debut of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who has fielded Mohammad Yameen in Bulandshahr to test the party’s electoral popularity.
The ruling Adityanath-led BJP government in the state faces an uphill battle with stiff competition from the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party. The Congress has also attempted to regain foothold in this politically significant state.
The Congress, meanwhile, has targeted the BJP for crimes against Dalits in the state, with primary focus on the Hathras gangrape and murder. However, the party has fielded Brahmin candidates like Arti Bajpai in Bangarmau, Rakesh Mishra at Malhani, and Mukund Bhaskar Tripathi in Deoria. The BSP has stayed with its earlier formula of giving tickets to Muslim politicians in two seats of western Uttar Pradesh – Bulandshahr and Naugawan Sadat.
Modi credited “pro-people policies” of the Centre and Adityanath government for BJP’s performance.
In Gujarat, the BJP won all eight seats. The saffron party’s Jadeja Pradhyumansinh Mahipatsinh defeated Congress candidate Dr Shantilal Senghani to win the Abdasa constituency.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani predicted the win, calling it a “trailer for the upcoming elections”, according to NDTV. The Assembly elections are due in the state next year.
The bye-polls in the state were necessitated after Congress MLAs resigned from the position. The legislators had quit days before the Rajya Sabha elections in June. Five of them joined the BJP soon after quitting, and the party has fielded them from the seats that they won in 2017.
The remaining three MLAs who switched sides are: JV Kakadiya (Dhari), Akshay Patel (Karjan) and Jitu Chaudhary (Kaprada).
Around 18.75 lakh voters chose from a total of 81 candidates for the eight seats of Abdasa in Kutch district, Karjan in Vadodara, Dang, Kaprada in Valsad, Morbi, Dhari in Amreli, Gadhada in Botad, and Limbdi in Surendranagar. The counting will be held at eight centres set up in these constituencies.
The bye-polls are also a chance for the BJP’s state unit chief CR Patil to realise his aim of winning all the 182 seats in the 2022 Assembly election.
Modi tweeted that the “bond between the people of Gujarat and BJP is unbreakable”.
In Manipur, where five seats went to the bye-polls, BJP has won three seats in Wangoi, Saitu and Wangjing Tentha. Independent candidate Y Antas Khan grabbed the Lilong constituency. BJP’s Ginsuanhau Zou was declared the winner unopposed from the Singhat constituency last month.
Bye-polls to four seats, apart from Singhat, were held in Manipur’s Wangoi, Lilong, Wangjing Tentha, and Saitu on November 7, along with the third phase of the Bihar Assembly elections and the single Lok Sabha seat in Valmiki Nagar.
Around 91.54% of the total 1.35 lakh voters exercised their franchise to decide the fate of 11 candidates. The bye-polls were required after four Congress MLAs resigned to join the BJP.
The saffron party has fielded candidates in three seats and supported Khan in Lilong. The Opposition Congress contested in all the four seats.
PM Modi thanked the people of the state and congratulated the Manipur BJP for the performance.
In Karnataka, the BJP secured both seats, as per the Election Commission of India. The saffron party’s Munirathna won the Rajarajeshwarinagar constituency by 58,113 votes, and CM Rajesh Gowda won by 13,414 votes in the Sira seat.
The two constituencies are situated in south Karnataka, where the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress have a stronger hold. Sira was vacated after the death of JD(S) leader B Satyanarayana in August. The Rajarajeshwari Nagar seat became empty in July 2019 after Congress leader Munirathna Naidu quit to join the BJP.
Though the results will not affect the BS Yediyurappa government, the contest is being seen by many as a reflection on its performance, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
Modi referred to the result as one that “reaffirms the people’s unwavering faith in the reform agenda of the Centre and state government.”
In Odisha, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal won both the seats in contention – Balasore Sadar and Tirtol.
The election to the seat of Balasore Sadore was necessitated after the death of sitting BJP leader Madan Mohan Dutta in June. The saffron party aims to regain the seat by fielding the deceased politician’s son Manas Kumar Dutta. The Tirtol seat was to be filled after the death of Biju Janata Dal MLA Bishnu Charan Das in July. Bijay Shankar Das, the party leader’s son, contested the elections from the seat.
The counting of votes for the Balasore bye-polls is being held at the campus of the district collector’s office, while counting of votes for the Tirtol seat is being done at the SVM College premises in Jagatsinghpur, Chief Electoral Officer SK Lohani said.
Earlier in the day, state BJP general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan claimed his party’s win in both the seats as the voters are “fed up with the ruling BJD”.
In Jharkhand, the Congress and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha won one seat each. JMM’s Basant Soren won with a margin of 6,842 votes in Dumka, while the Congress’ Anup Singh went ahead of BJP’s Yogeshwar Mahto with 14,225 votes.
A total of 28 candidates contested for the two seats. In Dumka, where the bye-poll was required after Chief Minister Hemant Soren announced he was retaining the Barhait seat, his brother Basant Soren was trailing BJP’s Lois Marandi by over 2,000 votes at 1.50 pm.
The Bermo seat was vacated after Congress MLA Rajendra Prasad Singh died in May.
In Nagaland, Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party’s Medo Yhokha and T Yangseo Sangtam – an Independent – won a seat each, bringing the bye-polls in the state to an end.
Deaths of Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party politician Vikho-o Yhoshu and T Torechu of the Naga People’s Front were the reason the seats fell vacant.
Congress’s KK Dhruw won against BJP’s Dr Gambheer Singh in Chhattisgarh’s Marwahi by 38,197 votes. The seat fell vacant after the death of former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi in May. The seat has been in the Jogi family since 2003. His son Amit Jogi won it in 2013. The seat is a Scheduled Tribes-reserved constituency. The seat will see a tussle between the BJP and the Congress after the nomination papers of Amit Jogi and his wife Richa Jogi were rejected as the returning officer said their caste certificates were invalid.
Congress’ Indu Raj won the lone seat up for grabs in Haryana. She defeated BJP’s Yogeshwar Dutt by 10,566 votes to wrest control of the Baroda Assembly seat, which fell vacant after Congress MLA Shri Krishan Hooda died in April.
After the win, Congress chief Kumari Selja said that the people of Baroda have given a befitting reply to anti-farmers and anti-labour forces. “The victory of Indu Raj Narwal is a win of farmers and labourers,” said Selja on Twitter. “I assure residents of Baroda that the Congress will live up to their expectations.”
The seat witnessed a contest among 14 candidates. Baroda is a Congress bastion, and a constituency that the BJP has never been able to secure.
In Telangana, BJP’s Madhavaneni Raghunandan Rao won with a margin of 1,079 votes in the Dubbak Assembly seat that needed filing after the death of Telangana Rashtra Samiti leader Ramalinga Reddy in August 2019.
Modi hailed the Dubbak success as a “historic win”.