New Delhi: Polling is underway for four Lok Sabha and ten Assembly by-elections across the country on Monday, the results of which could control the tone and tenor for the 2019 general elections for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition.
All eyes are on Kairana Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh, where a joint opposition is taking on the BJP.
Over 21% polling was recorded till 11 AM in Kairana parliamentary constituency while 22% votes were polled in Noorpur Assembly constituency where bypolls are underway today. The Kairana by-poll was necessitated following the death of BJP MP Hukum Singh in February.
His daughter Mriganka Singh is the BJP candidate, pitted against Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Tabassum Hasan (BSP MP from Kairana in 2009) who is also supported by the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and also claims the support of the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Similarly, the by-election to Noorpur Assembly seat was necessitated by the death of sitting BJP MLA Lokendra Singh Chauhan in a road accident in February.
In Noorpur, the BJP announced the name of Avani Singh, wife of late MLA Lokendra Chauhan, as its candidate. The SP has fielded Naeemul Hasan as its candidate.
Around 33% voting was recorded in the Maheshtala Assembly by-poll of West Bengal till 11 AM, an Election Commission official said. The by-poll was necessitated following the death of sitting MLA Kasturi Das. Maheshtala is witnessing a triangular contest among the Trinamool Congress, the BJP and the Left Front.
The TMC has fielded Dulal Das, the husband of the deceased MLA, while the BJP, which is trying to emerge as the main challenger to the TMC, has nominated Sujit Ghosh, a former joint director of the CBI. The Left, on the other hand, has fielded Prabhat Chowdhury, a relative greenhorn in the fray. The Congress is backing Chowdhury.
The second Lok Sabha bypoll will be held in Nagaland. The by-election was necessitated after the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) leader Neiphiu Rio, now chief minister of Nagaland resigned as a Lok Sabha member in February.
The ruling People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA), which has the NDPP and the BJP as its major constituents, has fielded former minister Tokheho Yepthomi from the seat.
Yepthomi is pitted against Opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) nominee C Apok Jamir. The Congress has also extended its support to Jamir.
Over 18% polling was recorded in the first two hours of bypolls to Silli Assembly seat while around 14% votes were cast in Gomia Assembly constituency in Jharkhand today.
Till 9 AM, 18.22% and 14.14% polling were recorded at Silli and Gomia Assembly constituencies respectively, the election official said.
The bypolls to Silli Assembly seat in Ranchi district and Gomia Assembly seat in Bokaro district were being held amidst tight security arrangements and no incidents of violence were reported so far, an election official said.
The by-polls to Gomia and Silli Assembly seats were necessitated following the conviction of Yogendra Mahto (Gomia) and Amit Mahto (Silli). Both were elected on JMM tickets in the 2014 Assembly election.
In Gomia Assembly seat, though there is a total of 13 candidates, the main contest is between BJP’s Madhavlal Singh, AJSU’s Lambodar Mahto and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Babita Devi, wife of disqualified MLA Yogendra Mahto.
In Silli, of the total ten candidates, the main contest will be between the former deputy chief minister and AJSU president Sudesh Mahto and Seema Mahto, wife of disqualified MLA Amit Mahto.
After the 12 May assembly elections in Karnataka, the equations have changed dramatically with political rivals Congress and JD(S) becoming coalition partners in the government. BJP too put in all its efforts to ensure the victory of their candidate Muniraju Gowda.
Around 18% polling was registered till 10 AM for the bypoll to the Jokihat Assembly seat in Bihar today, a top election official said.
Tight security arrangements are in place to ensure free and fair polls for the Assembly seat which fell vacant after the resignation of sitting MLA Sarfaraz Alam.
The bypoll is being viewed as a test of strength between Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) and RJD of Lalu Prasad.
Having won the seat in 2015 on a JD(U) ticket, Alam switched over to the RJD in March this year and got elected to the Lok Sabha from Araria in a bypoll necessitated by the death of his father Mohd Taslimuddin.
Braving heavy rains, people turned out in large numbers to cast their franchise in the morning today as bypoll in the Chengannur Assembly constituency began.
The leader of Opposition in the Kerala State Assembly, Ramesh Chennithalawas among the early voters in the constituency, which had witnessed a fierce contest between all the three fronts in the run-up to the polls.
While CPI(M)’s Saji Cheriyan, the party’s Alappuzha district secretary, is the candidate of the Left Democratic Front (LDF), Congress leader D Vijayakumar is the United Democratic Front (UDF) nominee.
Former BJP president PS Sreedharan Pillai is testing his luck once again from the constituency.
The by-poll was necessitated following the death of sitting MLA KK Ramachandran Nair (CPM) in January this year due to illness.
The outcome of the bypoll is widely seen as a referendum on the performance of the Pinarayi Vijayan led government in the State and Narendra Modi government at the centre.
The focus of political parties and pundits will also be on the by-elections to Palghar and Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.
The Shiv Sena has fielded late BJP MP Chintaman Wanaga’s son Shriniwas Wanaga in Palghar, much to the dislike of the BJP which has nominated Congress deserter Rajendra Gavit.
The BJP is confident of retaining the two seats. Union minister Smriti Irani and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath campaigned there.
In Meghalaya’s Ampati seat, the fight is mainly between the Congress and the BJP-backed National Peoples Party.
The Congress won 21 seats in the February assembly polls, but the count came down to 20 with Sangma vacating the seat.
Bypolls are also being held in Punjab’s Shahkot, Uttarakhand’s Tharali and Kerala’s Chengannur assembly constituencies.
Counting of votes will take place on 31 May.