Bypoll 2023 LIVE: India Bloc’s First Litmus Today as Voting Underway on 7 Seats in 6 States – News18

Bypoll 2023 LIVE Updates: Voting for the by-elections to seven assembly seats in six states is underway on Tuesday, amid heavy deployment of security personnel. The by-elections in two seats in Tripura (Dhanpur and Boxanagar), and one seat each in Kerala (Puthuppally), Jharkhand (Dumri), West Bengal (Dhupguri), Uttar Pradesh (Ghosi), and Uttarakhand (Bageshwar) are expected to serve as a litmus test for the Opposition’s newly formed Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc.

Polling began at 7 a.m. across the seven constituencies and is scheduled to continue till 4 p.m. The counting of votes will take place on September 8.

While the opposition alliance is putting up a united front in the Ghosi constituency in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand’s Dumri, Dhanpur, and Boxanagar in Tripura, and Uttarakhand’s Bageshwar, its constituents are contesting against each other in Dhupguri in West Bengal and Puthuppally in Kerala.

The INDIA bloc includes 28 parties including the Congress, NCP faction led by Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena (UBT), TMC, JMM, AAP, DMK, NC, PDP, CPI(M), CPI, RJD, SP and RLD.

Which are the seven seats where by-polls are underway?

Uttar Pradesh  (Ghosi)— In Uttar Pradesh, the Ghosi seat fell vacant after the resignation of Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA and OBC leader Dara Singh Chauhan, who rejoined the BJP.

While the ruling BJP-led NDA has fielded Chauhan, Samajwadi Party candidate Sudhakar Singh has got the support of the Congress and Left parties. Chauhan was a minister in the previous BJP government headed by Yogi Adityanath. He resigned from the Council of Ministers on January 12, 2022, and switched to the SP.

Campaigning has been high-pitched as both sides are aware that it is a litmus test for the opposition unity and a victory could set the trend in their favour for the Lok Sabha polls next year. In the 543-member Lok Sabha, Uttar Pradesh has 80 MPs.

West Bengal (Dhupguri)— The Dhupguri assembly constituency in north Bengal is witnessing a three-cornered contest between the TMC, BJP, and the Congress-supported CPI(M). While the TMC had won the seat in 2016, it was snatched by the BJP in 2021.

Tripura (Dhanpur and Boxanagar) — In Dhanpur and Boxanagar assembly seats in Tripura’s Sepahijala district, Chief Minister Manik Saha led the party’s campaign from the front.

Tipra Motha, the main opposition, and Congress have stayed away. The Tripura Pradesh Congress on Sunday urged people to vote for opposition bloc INDIA candidates in the two seats.

BJP’s Tafajjal Hussain, who unsuccessfully contested the Assembly election in February, will take on CPI(M)’s Mizan Hussain in minority-dominated Boxanagar constituency, still considered the Left party’s stronghold.

Dhanpur, once a strong bastion of the communists, is heading for a direct fight between BJP’s Bindu Debnath and CPI(M)’s Kaushik Debnath.

The international border has been sealed to prevent any intrusion from Bangladesh as both constituencies share a boundary with the neighbouring country, a senior police officer said, adding that there will be adequate security to ensure peaceful voting.

Jharkhand (Dumri) – In Jharkhand’s Dumri, INDIA bloc candidate Bebi Devi is locked in a direct contest with NDA candidate Yashoda Devi. The seat has turned out to be a prestigious one for both alliances amid Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) claiming that the INDIA bloc will begin its victory journey from Dumri, while the NDA exuded confidence that it is all set to snatch the seat from JMM.

The by-election was necessitated following the death of JMM MLA Jagarnath Mahto, former education minister, in April. Mahto had been representing the seat since 2004.

Kerala (Puthuppally)—  The Congress and the ruling Left will take on each other at the Puthuppally by-poll in Kerala, with the opposition party in the state banking on “anti-incumbency” and the late Oommen Chandy’s legacy.

The Congress-led UDF opposition has fielded Chandy’s son, Chandy Oommen, to benefit from the sympathy wave following the former CM’s death.

On the other hand, the ruling Left once again decided to go with DYFI leader Jaick C Thomas who had unsuccessfully contested from the segment in 2016 and 2021 against the late Chandy. The BJP has fielded its Kottayam district president G Lijinlal.

Uttarakhand (Bageshwar) -The BJP and the Congress are in a straight contest in Uttarakhand’s Bageshwar  The ruling BJP has fielded Parvati Das as it seeks to retain the seat. It was won by her husband Chandan Das in four consecutive elections since 2007 and his death necessitated the bypoll.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and other top BJP leaders campaigned for Das.

Congress heavyweights like Harish Rawat, PCC president Karan Mahara and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Yashpal Arya had also been camping in Bageshwar for the past few days to garner support for party candidate Basant Kumar.

(With Inputs from PTI)

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