New Delhi /Oct, 30 : By polls to three Lok Sabha and 29 Assembly seats – across 13 states and the UT of Dadra & Nagar Haveli – are being held today. Almost all the Assembly bypolls are needed after incumbent MLAs defected to join the BJP. Votes will be counted on Tuesday.
The three Lok Sabha bypolls are in Himachal Pradesh (Mandi), Madhya Pradesh (Khandwa) and Dadra & Nagar Haveli. All three seats are vacant after the MPs died. Mandi MP Ramswaroop Sharma and Khandwa MP Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan died in March, while Mohan Delkar, the Dadra MP, died, allegedly by suicide, a month earlier. Mandi and Khandwa were held by the BJP, while Mr Delkar was an independent MP.. Bengal will see four bypolls, including one to Cooch Behar’s Dinhata, where the ruling Trinamool’s Udayan Guha was beaten (by 57 votes) by the BJP in April-May. He gets a second chance after the BJP’s Nisith Pramanik, the junior Home Minister, quit to retain his Lok Sabha seat; Pramanik was one of several BJP MPs drafted in for the state polls. Other open Bengal Assembly seats are Santipur in Nadia district, and Khardah and Gosaba in North and South 24 Parganas, respectively. For the BJP, the Santipur and Dinhata battles, both of which it won in the April-May election, are a matter of prestige, given that they are now facing an alarming exodus of leaders in the state. For the Trinamool, Khardah is important since it has fielded state minister Sovadeb Chattopadhyay. He had won from Bhabanipur but quit so Mamata Banerjee could win an Assembly seat. Ms Banerjee earlier contested and lost from Nandigram to aide-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP. She had to win a bypoll within six months to remain Chief Minister. She did so by beating the BJP’s Priyanka Tibrewal by 58,832 votes. In Assam five Assembly bypolls will be held. These are Gossaigaon in Kokrajhar district, Tamulpur in Baksa district, Mariani and Thowra (which is located around a tea garden of the same name) in Jorhat district. The fifth is Bhawanipur in Barpeta district. Gossaigaon and Tamulpur bypolls are needed because the sitting MLAs died. MLAs of the other three resigned to join the BJP; Mariana and Thowra were held by the Congress before Rupjyoti Kurmi and Sushanta Borgohain quit. Now both Kurmi and Borgohain are bidding for re-election on BJP tickets. Bhawanipur was held by the AIUDF’s Phanidhar Talukdar before he too resigned and is now also contesting on a BJP ticket. For the Congress, the Vallabhnagar and Dhariawad bypolls in Rajasthan are being seen as a test of the stability of its government, given tension between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot. The Gehlot-Pilot feud led to the party almost losing the state last year. Vallabhnagar was held by the Congress and Dhariawad by the BJP. Apart from the Khandwa Lok Sabha seat, Madhya Pradesh will see three Assembly bypolls – Raigaon, Jobat and Prithvipur. Raigaon was held by the BJP and the other two by the Congress. The results will not affect Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan, but he will want a strong win to claim a position of strength, given that the BJP has replaced four state leaders in the past few months. Bypolls will also be held in Telangana’s Huzurabad and Andhra Pradesh’s Badvel. Huzurabad was held by the ruling TRS and is a prestige battle for Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, given the BJP has fielded Eatala Rajender. The ex-TRS leader and minister quit in June over land grab allegations and is now contesting on a BJP ticket. Other bypolls include Karnataka’s Hanagal and Sindgi constituencies. This will be a first electoral test for new BJP Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who replaced BS Yediyurappa in July. Three seats will be voting in Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh each, two in Bihar, and one each in Maharashtra and Mizoram. Also voting will be Haryana’s Ellenabad, where the Indian National Lok Dal’s Abhay Chautala (who quit in protest over the farm laws) looking to win back the seat.