Voting is being held on Tuesday for by-elections to 54 assembly constituencies in 10 states including 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh where the BJP is locked in a keenly-fought contest with the Congress to save its government.
Voting began at 7 am and will be held till 6 PM, except in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Nagaland where the timings are different, and the number of people allowed in a polling booth has been restricted. Voters who are COVID-19 positive will be allowed to vote separately in the last hour, officials said.
Bypoll to two assembly seats in Manipur and Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat in Bihar will be held on November 7.
Counting of votes for all seats will be held on November 10.
The bypolls are being held in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Odisha, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh.
Here is the list of all the seats going to bypolls today (November 3):
Ashok Nagar (SC)
Southern Angazni-I (ST)
Manipur (November 7)
Lok Sabha bypoll
Valmiki Nagar (Bihar - November 7)
Extensive arrangements have been made due to the COVID-19 pandemic including personal protective equipment (PPE) kits for election staff, more polling booths, thermal screening, sanitisers, masks and gloves for voters and markings to ensure social distancing, officials said.
All eyes are riveted 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 seats out of 28 in the state. Twenty-five of them had 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 in the fray as BJP candidates, while in three other seats the by-election was necessitated due to the demise of the sitting legislators.
Overall, the Congress had sitting MLAs in 38 seats out of the 54, while the BJP had eight.
The saffron party is fielding 31 candidates in MP, Gujarat and Karnataka who had won from the Congress ticket but switched sides and resigned, necessitating the byelections in those seats.
In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP, which has a comfortable majority in the Assembly, is locked in a battle of prestige on the seven seats ? six of which it had won in the last election while one was with the Samajwadi Party.
In Gujarat, the bypolls are being held in eight seats after the Congress MLAs resigned ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls in June this year. Five of them later joined the ruling BJP and are contesting again.