New Delhi: The counting of votes for by-elections to four Lok Sabha seats and 11 assembly constituencies has begun. Tight security arrangements have been made to ensure safe and fair counting.
Lok Sabha Bypoll:
The Lok Sabha seats which went for polls were; Palghar and Bhandara-Gondiya in Maharashtra; the politically-crucial Kairana Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh, and Nagaland parliamentary constituency. It will be a litmus test for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a positive outcome is necessary for the saffron party to maintain its majority in the Lok Sabha.
The results will also test the mettle of a united opposition with that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Though, after losing from Gorakhpur and Phulpur, the BJP had profusely campaigned to win the Kairana seat. Similarly, in Maharashtra’s Palghar and Bhandara-Gondiya, all four major parties — the BJP, Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress left no stone unturned to woo the electorates in their favour.
Elections were necessitated in Kairana after the seat fell vacant in February following the death of BJP leader Hukum Singh. The BJP has fielded Mriganka Singh, daughter of Singh, from this seat. In Maharashtra, Palghar is a reserved seat, which was previously held by the BJP. The seat fell vacant after sitting BJP MP Chintaman Wanga died in January.
Chintaman Wanga had thrice won the constituency as a BJP member, however, after his death, his family had joined hands with the Shiv Sena. In Bhandara-Gondiya the bye-election was necessitated when BJP’s sitting MP Nana Patole quit the party to join the Congress in December last year.
Meanwhile, in Nagaland Neiphiu Rio of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party was the representative of the lone Lok Sabha constituency in Nagaland. Rio, who represented this constituency, quit in February to contest in the assembly election. Rio is the chief minister of Nagaland.
The by-elections were held in Legislative Assemblies of Shahkot (Punjab), Tharali (Uttarakhand), Ampati (Meghalaya), Chengannur (Kerala), Jokihat (Bihar), Gomia (Jharkhand), Silli (Jharkhand), Maheshtala (West Bengal), Noorpur (Uttar Pradesh), Palus Kadegaon (Maharashtra).
The by-poll in Gomia Assembly was necessitated after the sitting MLA Yogendra Prasad Mahto of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) was expelled from the assembly after he was convicted in a coal theft case. In Jharkhand’s Silli the sitting MLA, Amit Mahto, of the JMM was convicted in a criminal assault case in March following which the seat fell vacant.
The seat of Noorpur in Uttar Pradesh fell vacant after the death of sitting BJP MLA Lokendra Singh Chouhan. Chouhan was a two-time MLA from here. The Maheshtala seat was held by Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLA Kasturi Das until his death in February. He too had represented this constituency twice.
Former Meghalaya Chief Minister and Congress MLA Mukul Sangma resigned from Ampati seat in March, as he had also won from Songsak. Sangma was the MLA from this seat since 1993. Tharali seat in Uttarakhand is reserved for the member of scheduled castes. The by-poll was necessitated after the death of the BJP MLA Magan Lal Shah in February.
Chengannur seat fell vacant after the death of Communist Party of India (Marxist) sitting MLA K.K. Ramachandran Nair in January. Sarfaraz Alam had won the Jokihat assembly seat on Janata Dal (United) (JD-U) ticket. He later contested from RJD ticket and resigned in April from the post of MLA after his victory in the Araria Lok Sabha by-poll.
The Shiromani Akali Dal representative of the Shahkot seat, Ajit Singh Kohar the sitting MLA, died in February, which necessitated by-poll in the assembly. Kohar had won from the constituency in 2012 and 2017. The by-poll in Palus-Kadegaon Assembly constituency was necessitated due to the death of Congress’s Patangrao Kadam, who had won the constituency twice. The EC has declared Kadam’s son elected unopposed as the BJP had withdrawn its candidate.
These bye-elections were also marred with the complaints of EVM malfunctioning and in the view of which the election commission had to replace the faulty machines at certain places after which repolling was held on several booths on Wednesday.