The stage is all set for an uphill battle in six states – Maharashtra, Telangana, Bihar, Haryana, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh – for the high-stakes bypolls in seven assemblies on November 3. These elections were necessary after either the incumbent MLAs died, switched sides or were sent to prison in criminal cases.
Voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the counting of votes will take place on November 6.
Here’s everything you need to know about these seven constituencies:
1. Munugode (Telangana)
The contest in the Munugode constituency is crucial for all major parties in Telangana – the ruling TRS, opposition BJP and Congress.
More than 2.41 lakh voters would exercise their right to vote at 298 polling stations across the constituency.
The bypoll has been necessitated by the resignation of incumbent Congress MLA Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy from the party and his post in August. He has joined the BJP and is seeking reelection. While 47 candidates are in the fray, the main contest is limited to Raj Gopal Reddy (BJP), former MLA Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy of TRS and Palvai Sravanthi of Congress.
The bypoll took on great political significance as the winner would be ahead of others ahead of next year’s legislative assembly polls in Telangana. The TRS, recently renamed Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS), wants to demonstrate its dominance in state politics and go national with a big win here. The BJP, meanwhile, hopes to give a boost to its plans to emerge as an alternative to TRS with a win in Munugode.
It is almost a do-or-die battle for the beleaguered Congress, given the underperformance in the 2014 and 2018 parliamentary elections and subsequent polls. If Congress loses, it would be a double blow to the party, as Munugode was the incumbent seat.
2. Andheri East (Maharashtra)
A total of 2,71,502 voters and 256 polling booths are all set for by-election for Mumbai’s Andheri East constituency on Thursday. Andheri East is a cosmopolitan area largely made up of Maharashtrian voters, North Indians, South Indians, Christians and Muslims.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena faction has appointed Rutuja Latke, wife of incumbent Sena MLA Ramesh Latke whose death in May necessitated the poll. She is up against six candidates, including four Independents.
The BJP fielded Murji Patel, but he later withdrew his candidacy after the party decided not to participate.
These are the first elections after the uprising in the Shiv Sena by Eknath Shinde and 39 other lawmakers led to the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
Political observers claimed the BJP’s move to withdraw its candidate was aimed at denying Uddhav a morale booster or an upper hand if Latke triumphed in the looting. The main goal of the BJP and the Shinde faction is to evict Thackeray’s Sena from the wealthy Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), where the elections will be held in the coming months, they further claimed.
3. Mokama (Bihar)
For Mokama’s by-polls, the BJP has left no stone unturned to win the seat for the first time, while the ruling Mahagathbandhan’s largest eligible voter RJD is doing everything it can to keep it.
BJP nominee Sonam Devi takes on RJD’s Neelam Devi, whose husband Anant Singh’s disqualification has made the by-election necessary. Neelam’s nomination was supported by the seven-party major alliance formed after the deprivation of the state’s saffron camp in August.
Mokama has been Anant Singh’s stronghold since 2005. He won the seat twice on JD(U) tickets. Singh fought as RJD candidate in the 2020 elections and retained the seat. But he was disqualified from the meeting after his conviction in a criminal case.
BJP’s Sonam Devi, wife of local powerhouse Lalan Singh who opposes Anant Singh, is a rookie. Her husband is known as a close confidant of Suraj Bhan Singh, a feared mobster turned politician who made his election debut in the 2000 parliamentary election.
The BJP is fighting from the Mokama constituency for the first time, as the saffron party had left the seat to its allies on previous occasions.
Approximately 2,70,166 voters in the assembly segment are eligible to exercise their franchise.
4. Gopalganj (Bihar)
Besides Mokama, by-elections for Goapalgunj will also be held on Thursday, and this will be the first election test for the Nitish Kumar-led ‘Mahagathbandhan’ government, which was formed less than three months ago.
5. Adampur (Haryana)
Nearly 1.71 lakh eligible voters will decide the fate of the Bhajan Lal family in Adampur constituency via a poll as the family clings to its five-decade bastion.
Twenty-two candidates, all men, are in the fray. The main parties fighting are BJP, Congress, Indian National Lok Dal and Aam Aadmi Party.
Former Prime Minister Bhajan Lal’s youngest son Kuldeep Bishnoi has claimed that Adampur has been his family’s citadel. The Adampur seat has been held by the Bhajan Lal family since 1968, with the late former prime minister representing nine times, his wife Jasma Devi once and Kuldeep four times.
The bypoll was needed after Kuldeep Bishnoi resigned as MLA from the seat and switched parties from Congress to the BJP in August.
Bishnoi’s son Bhavya, who is contesting the bypoll as the BJP candidate, had also left the Congress and joined the BJP. Congress rallied former Union minister Jai Prakash, a three-time Hisar MP and two-time MLA. The INLD chose congressional rebel Kurda Ram Nambardar as its candidate. The AAP has deployed Satender Singh, who has switched from the BJP.
A total of 180 polling booths have been set up – 36 of which are sensitive and 39 are hypersensitive.
6. Gola Gokrannath (Uttar Pradesh)
The bypolls to the Gola Gokarannath constituency will witness a match between the ruling BJP and the Samajwadi party as Congress and BSP have opted out of the election campaign. In total, seven candidates submitted papers for the election.
The bypolls to the constituency were necessitated by the death of incumbent MLA Arvind Giri on September 6. The BJP has drafted his son Aman Giri for the bypolls, while the Samajwadi Party (SP) has given a ticket to former MLA Vinay Tiwari.
7. Dhamnagar (Odisha)
BJD has called Abanti Das, the only woman among the five candidates, to the bypolls.
BJP has dealt with Suryabanshi Suraj. Odisha BJP president Samir Mohanty, party leader D Purendeswar, opposition leader JN Mishra, MPs and MLAs also campaigned for Suraj, the son of the late Dhamnagar MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi, whose untimely death on September 19 necessitated the bee poll.
The saffron party is optimistic about retaining the Dhamnagar seat based on sympathy votes. In two interim polls held in Dhamnagar in 1961 and 1990, the wife and son of deceased MLAs had won the seat.
The BJP has regarded the bee poll as a prestige issue ahead of the 2024 general election as the Dhamnagar seat was won by the party in the 2019 state poll. The party had lost the Balasore Sadar seat in the bee poll conducted. was held during the 2020 pandemic, although she had won it just a year ago.
Also in the fray is AAP candidate Anwar Sheikh.
More than 2.38 lakh voters will exercise their right to vote in 252 polling stations in the constituency. About 107 polling stations have been identified as sensitive.
(with input of PTI)
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