Voting for the byelections in seven Assembly seats across six States is under way amid tight security arrangements. The bypolls are being held at Dhupguri in West Bengal, Bageshwar in Uttarakhand, Puthupally in Kerala, Ghosi in Uttar Pradesh, Dhanpur and Boxanagar in Tripura and Dumri in Jharkhand.
Polling began at 7 a.m. Counting of votes will take place on September 8.
Voting for the Ghosi assembly bypoll, the first electoral showdown in Uttar Pradesh after the formation of the opposition INDIA bloc, is being held at 455 polling stations and will conclude at 6 pm, the office of the State chief electoral officer said.
The Ghosi bypoll was necessitated by the resignation of Dara Singh Chauhan, who had won the seat in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, from the Samajwadi Party (SP) in July. The OBC leader returned to the BJP and was picked by the party to contest the Ghosi bypoll.
In the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, Chauhan had defeated BJP candidate Vijay Kumar Rajbhar by a margin of 22,216 votes. Ghosi had recorded a polling percentage of 58.59. This time, Chauhan is pitted against the SP’s Sudhakar Singh.
The bypoll will have no bearing on the BJP government, which enjoys a comfortable majority in the 403-member state assembly. However, its outcome is important as it could be an indicator of what is in store for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
In Tripura, BJP’s Tafajjal Hussain, who unsuccessfully contested the last assembly election from Boxanagar, is contesting against CPI(M) nominee Mizan Hussain. The Boxanagar assembly segment has 66% minority voters of a total of 43,087 electors. In the last assembly elections in February, the CPI(M) managed to retain the seat. The by-election to the Boxanagar constituency was necessitated by the death of CPI(M) MLA Samsul Haque.
The Dhanpur assembly constituency, once considered a stronghold of the Left, will witness a fight between BJP’s Bindu Debnath and Kaushik Debnath of CPI(M). There are 50,346 eligible voters. The BJP won the seat for the first time in the assembly poll held seven months ago. Union Minister Pratima Bhoumik’s resignation as the MLA of Dhanpur necessitated the by-election to that seat.
In the Puthuppally assembly constituency in Kottayam district, the ruling CPI (M) and the opposition Congress are locked in a fierce battle as the seat fell vacant after the demise of Congress stalwart and former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Chandy represented the constituency in Kottayam district for more than five decades without any break until his demise on July 18 this year.
The Congress-led opposition UDF has fielded Oommen Chandy’s son, Chandy Oommen, which analysts view as an apparent strategy to capitalise on the sympathy wave following the former CM’s death. The ruling Left Front once again decided to go with DYFI leader Jaick C. Thomas who had unsuccessfully contested the segment in 2016 and 2021 against the late Chandy.
In Dhupguri assembly constituency in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district, over 2.6 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the bypoll. Polling is taking place in 260 booths, of which 71 have been identified as sensitive, the official said. The bypoll to the seat was necessitated by the death of its sitting BJP MLA, Bishu Pada Ray, earlier this year.
CPI (M)‘s Ishwar Chandra Roy is contesting as the candidate of the Congress-Left alliance, while the ruling TMC has fielded Nirmal Chandra Roy, a teacher by profession. The BJP has nominated Tapasi Roy, the widow of a CRPF jawan who died fighting terrorists in Kashmir a few years back.
The bypoll to the Bageshwar assembly seat in Uttarakhand was necessitated by the death of sitting BJP MLA and cabinet minister Chandan Ram Das in April. He had won the seat in four consecutive polls since 2007.
The bypoll is important as its verdict will reflect the mood of voters in Uttarakhand ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP won all the five Lok Sabha seats in the State in the 2014 and 2019 general elections.
The BJP has fielded Das’ widow Parvati in the bypoll and is hoping to capitalise on sympathy votes to retain the seat. There are four other candidates in the fray — Congress’ Basant Kumar, Samajwadi Party’s Bhagvati Prasad, Uttarakhand Kranti Dal’s Arjun Dev and Uttarakhand Parivartan Party’s Bhagwat Kohli. However, the direct contest is likely to be between the BJP and the Congress.
Voting for the by-election to Dumri assembly is under way in 373 polling stations, of which around 200 have been identified as Maoist-affected booths. Over 2.98 lakh voters, including 1.44 lakh women, are eligible to exercise their franchise in the by-election and will decide the electoral fate of six candidates, including three independents.
The bypoll was necessitated by the death of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MLA and former education minister Jagarnath Mahto. He had been representing the seat since 2004.
The JMM has fielded Mahto’s wife Bebi Devi as the nominee of the opposition bloc INDIA, while the AJSU party has nominated Yashoda Devi as the NDA candidate. The AIMIM has also fielded Md Abdul Mobin Rizvi.