Bypolls to 4 Lok Sabha, 10 Assembly seats today; voting underway

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The stage is set for four Parliamentary and 10 Assembly byelections on Monday. Voting has begun for all the seats. The four Lok Sabha constituencies going to bypolls are Kairana in Uttar Pradesh, Bhandara-Gondia and Palghar in Maharashtra, and the lone Parliamentary seat in Nagaland.
Kairana
All eyes will be on the high-stake Kairana seat where a joint opposition will take on the ruling BJP. Mriganka Singh is the BJP candidate here who faces Rashtriya Lok Dal’s (RLD) Tabassum Hasan who has the support of Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. The bypoll was necessitated after the death of MP Hukum Singh, and Mriganka is his daughter. It’s a prestige battle for the BJP, which has lost the recent bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur.
While the Opposition hopes to consolidate all anti-BJP votes, the ruling party went all-out during the campaigning to retain the seat. Much to the chagrin of the Opposition parties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a massive gathering near here after inaugurating the Eastern Peripheral Expressway on Saturday. He delivered a political speech, and the BJP is confident it will help the party immensely in Kairana.
Palghar
Palghar is another seat that is being keenly contested. However, the contest here is between the BJP and its ever bitter ally Shiv Sena. The election as necessitated after the death of BJP MP Chintaman Wanaga in January this year, and Shiv Sena has fielded the late MP ‘s son, Shriniwas Wanaga, from the seat. BJP has nominated Rajendra Gavit who was with the Congress earlier.
Bhandra-Gondia
In Bhandra-Gondia, the byelection was necessitated because BJP MP Nana Patole quit over farmer issues and resigned from the party. He had joined the BJP ahead of the 2014 general elections, and returned to the Congress earlier this year. The contest will be multi-cornered here, but the main fight is between the BJP and the NCP.
Nagaland
In Nagaland capital Kohima, there is a straight contest between ruling Peoples Democratic Alliance (PDA) candidate Tokheho Yepthomi and opposition NPF nominee C Apok Jamir for the lone Lok Sabha seat. The bypoll was necessitated following the resignation of MP Neiphiu Rio to contest the Assembly elections in February. Rio is the current chief minister of the state.
READ | Shahkot bypoll today, Congress faces tough fight in Akali stronghold
Assembly bypolls
The 10 assembly bypolls will take place in Maharashtra (Palus Kadegaon), Uttar Pradesh (Noorpur), Bihar (Jokihat), Jharkhand (Gomia and Silli), Kerala (Chengannur), Meghalaya (Ampati), Punjab (Shahkot), Uttarakhand (Tharali) and West Bengal (Maheshtala).
Palus Kadegaon
The bypoll was necessitated following the death of senior Congress leader Patangrao Kadam, who passed away on 9 March. Kadam represented the seat on seven occasions.
The Congress has given the ticket to Kadam’s son Vishwajeet. The Shiv Sena, which is at crosses with the BJP, has backed Vishwajeet. The BJP has fielded Sangramsinh Deshmukh, president of Sangli zilla parishad and deputy chairman of Sangli district cooperative bank.
Shahkot
The Congress is hoping to maintain its winning momentum while the Akali Dal is trying to retain Shahkot, which falls in Jalandhar district. The bypoll, which started today, was necessitated following the demise of Akali MLA Ajit Singh Kohar in February this year.
The ruling Congress has fielded Hardev Singh Laddi while Akali Dal has given ticket to Kohar’s son Naib Singh Kohar. The Aam Aadmi Party has nominated Rattan Singh Kakkar Kalan for the Shahkot bypoll.
As many as 1,72,676 voters, including women who could be seen standing in queues, will decide the fate of 12 candidates who are in the fray. The Election Commission has deployed a total of 1,022 personnel of security forces, including six companies of the Border Security Force, in Shahkot.
Jokihat
A stronghold of the Janata Dal (United), Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar himself campaigned for JD(U) candidate Murshid Alam.
The seat was held by JD(U) till it fell vacant following the decision of sitting MLA Sarfaraz Alam to contest the Araria parliamentary bypolls on an RJD ticket. Alam went on to win Araria, a seat represented by his father RJD MP Taslimuddin till his death.
RJD has fielded Taslimuddin’s younger son Shahnawaz Alam in this seat which as a 70 per cent Muslim population.
Noorpur
The death of sitting BJP MLA Lokendra Singh necessitated bypolls in this constituency located in UP’s Bijnor district.
As voting began amid tight security at 7 am on Monday, people queued up outside polling stations to vote for the candidates in fray.
In Noorpur, the BJP announced the name of Avani Singh, wife of late MLA Lokendra Chauhan, as the party’s candidate. The SP has fielded Naeemul Hasan as its candidate.
Gomia and Silli
Opposition parties Congress and JVM are supporting Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) candidates in both Gomia and Silli.
The Gomia seat is currently held by the JMM. The ruling national democratic alliance partners — the BJP and the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) are fighting separately on this seat.
BJP has fielded former minister Madav Lal Singh and AJSU has fielded Lambodar Mahto, who was a state government employee.
The JMM has fielded Babita Devi, wife of Yogendra Mahto, who was disqualified as a legislator after being convicted and awarded a two-year jail term in a case.
In Silli, there is a direct fight between JMM candidate Seema Mahto and AJSU president Sudesh Mahto. Seema Mahto is the wife of Amit Mahto, who lost his assembly seat after being convicted and awarded a jail term.
Chengannur
The death of the sitting CPI(M) lawmaker KK Ramachandran Nair necessitated the bypolls. Saji Cheriyan, CPI(M)’s Alappuzha district secretary, is the party’s candidate. Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) has fielded D Vijayakumar who hopes to wrest this seat for the party.
Turning it into a three-corner contest, BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai threw his hat in the ring.
Ampati
This seat has a total of 24,181 voters. Bypolls are being held here after former chief minister and Congress leader Mukul Sangma, who had won both Ampati and Songsak in the recently held 27 February assembly elections, vacated it. He has won this seat six consecutive times.
A Congress bastion, the party has fielded Sangma’s daughter Miani D Shira against National People’s Party (NPP)’s Clement G Momin and independent candidate Subhankar Koch.
NPP commands the highest number of seats in the coalition government in Meghalaya, of which BJP is a part.
Tharali
The death of sitting BJP MLA Magan Lal Shah necessitated the bypoll. The BJP has this time given ticket to Shah’s widow Munni Devi.
In contest is Congress leader Jeet Ram, the same man who was defeated in 2017 by Shah. The Congress has extensively campaigned for its nominee with former chief minister Harish Rawat, state chief Pritam Singh and Kedarnath MLA Manoj Rawat participating in the process.
Though there are three other candidates in fray, the battle is clearly between the Congress and the BJP.
Tharali has a total of 1,02,569 votes.
Maheshtala
The Trinamool Congress has fielded Dulal Das, the husband of late party MLA Kasturi Das whose death has necessitated the by-poll. 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 Front, on the other hand, has given ticket to Prabhat Chowdhury, a local.
Amid fears of a repeat of the violence witnessed in the recently concluded panchayat elections in the state, Maheshtala, which falls under South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, has been fortified by 10 companies of Central forces and a massive contingent of state armed forces.
The 2,48,855 voters of this constituency will exercise their right in 283 booths under 211 polling premises.

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