Bhopal/Lucknow/Ahmedabad, Nov 3: Thousands of people on Tuesday battled corona fears and queued up outside polling booths across 10 states to vote in by-elections to 54 assembly constituencies, including 28 in Madhya Pradesh where the BJP is locked in a high-stakes contest with the Congress to save its government.
COVID-19 guidelines were in place as the first pan-India electoral exercise in the pandemic began with election staff in personal protective equipment (PPE) suits, more polling booths to prevent overcrowding, thermal screening, sanitisers and masks and gloves for voters as well as markings to ensure social distancing, officials said
Voting started at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm, except in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Nagaland. The last hour has been reserved for voters who have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said
The votes will be counted on November 10
Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to vote in large numbers
“Today, there are bypolls taking place in various places across India. I urge those voting in these seats to vote in large numbers and strengthen the festival of democracy,” he said in a tweet
BJP president J P Nadda also urged voters to come out in large numbers to exercise their franchise
UTTAR PRADESH AND HARYANA
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar echoed them in their appeal to voters
As voting gathered pace, over 18 per cent of votes were cast till 11 am in the bypolls to seven Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh. Haryana witnessed low voter turnout in the initial hours
The bypolls in Uttar Pradesh are the first electoral test for the Azad Samaj Party, which evolved from Chandrashekhar Azad’s Bhim Army that has fielded Mohammed Yameed from Bulandshahr
The seven assembly seats include Naugaon Sadat, which fell vacant after the death of cabinet minister Chetan Chauhan who had tested positive for COVID-19. The BJP has fielded his wife Sangeeta Chauhan.
As the morning progressed, she alleged that fake votes were being cast and demanded that voting be done only after ‘burqas’ (veils) were removed.
Chief Electoral Officer Ajay Kumar Shukla told PTI he would look into the allegations.
The other significant seat is Bangarmau (Unnao), which fell vacant after Kuldeep Singh Sengar was convicted in a rape case
In Haryana, 1.8 lakh voters are eligible to decide the fate of 14 candidates, including wrestler and BJP candidate Yogeshwar Dutt, in Baroda. The seat fell vacant in April after the demise of Congress’s three-time legislator MLA Shri Krishan Hooda.
All eyes are on Madhya Pradesh where the BJP, which has 107 MLAs in the assembly with an effective strength of 229, needs at least eight more MLAs for a simple majority
The stakes are high for the Congress, too, as it had sitting MLAs in 27 of the 28 seats going to the polls. Twenty-five resigned early this year and joined the BJP after a rebellion by Jyotiraditya Scindia, leading to the collapse of the Kamal Nath government.
They are now contesting as BJP candidates. In the three other seats, the by-election was necessitated following the deaths of the sitting legislators
Twelve state ministers are among the 355 candidates contesting in the central India state, where bypolls are being held for so many seats in one go for the first time
In most seats, there is a direct fight between the BJP and Congress.
In Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka, the saffron party is fielding 31 candidates who had won on a Congress ticket but switched sides and resigned, necessitating the bypolls
Bypolls in the state are being held in eight seats after Congress MLAs resigned ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls in June. Five of them later joined the BJP and are contesting again. Officials said the voter turnout till 11 am was 23.29 per cent
Assembly bypolls are also underway in Chhattisgarh (one), ?Nagaland (two), Jharkhand (two), Karnataka (two), Nagaland (two), Odisha (two) and Telangana (one)
In Karnataka, voting is underway in Rajarajeshwari (RR) Nagar in Bengaluru Urban district and Sira in Tumakuru district, where a total of 31 candidates are fighting
The death of Sira MLA B Satyanarayana, who was from the JD(S), and the resignation of RR Nagar Congress MLA Munirathna from the assembly, last year, led to the by-elections
The RR Nagar seat, part of the Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha constituency represented by Congress state chief D K Shivakumar’s brother D K Suresh, is a prestigious issue for both the Congress and the BJP.
The BJP has fielded former Congress MLA Munirathna while the Congress has put forward H Kusuma, wife of the late IAS officer D K Ravi. The JD(S) has fielded V Krishnamurthy
The BJP had earlier held this constituency, which Munirathna had won as a Congress MLA
The death of former chief minister and JCC(J) legislator Ajit Jogi necessitated the by-election in the Marwahi assembly seat. Till 11 am, 21.52 per cent polling was recorded in the Scheduled Tribes (ST)-reserved seat where eight candidates are in the fray
Over 20 candidates are in the fray in the state’s Dubbak assembly constituency but the main contest is among the TRS, BJP and the Congress
The by-election is necessitated by the death of sitting TRS MLA Solipeta Ramalinga Reddy due to health problems in August this year. The TRS has fielded his widow Solipeta Sujatha
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s home turf Dumka is seeing a contest between his younger brother Basant Soren and former cabinet minister Lois Marandi of the BJP
It is expected to be a straight fight between BJP’s Yogeshwar Mahato and Anup Singh of the Congress in Bermo seat in Bokaro district
In Odisha, the BJD and the BJP are fighting for the Tirtol and Balasore seats won by the two parties, respectively, in the 2019 assembly elections
In the northeast state, eight candidates are in contesting the by-election to two Assembly seats — three from the Southern Angami-1 seat and five from Pungro-Kiphire constituency
The Southern Angami-I seat fell vacant following the death of Assembly speaker Vikho-o Yhoshu last December. The Pungro-Kiphire seat was declared vacant following the death of sitting opposition Naga Peoples Front MLA, T. Torechu
Voting started at 6 am in these seats and will end at 4 pm.
Categories: India News