8:20 am - Sunday November 8, 2015

By-elections: Voting underway in 10 states; brisk voting in UP, stakes high for BJP, SP

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New Delhi: Voting began Saturday for byelections to 3 Lok Sabha and 33 Assembly constituencies spread across 10 states in an exercise seen as yet another major test of Narendra Modi government’s popularity since it assumed power in May.

The three Lok Sabha bypolls are in Vadodara (Gujarat), Mainpuri (Uttar Pradesh) and Medak (Telangana) while 11 Assembly constituencies are in UP, nine in Gujarat, four in Rajasthan, two in West Bengal, five in Northeastern states and one each in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

Counting of votes is scheduled for September 16.​The state’s ruling Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are the main contenders in most of the Assembly seats and the lone Lok Sabha seat.

Stakes are high for BJP, Congress, Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh after the saffron party’s near-total sweep of the 80 seats in Lok Sabha polls just four months ago while Trinamool Congress battles to retain two assembly seats in West Bengal in the face of Saradha chit fund scam that has already ensnared some of its leaders.

If retaining Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat, vacated by SP supremo Mualayam Singh Yadav who had won from two LS seats including Azamgarh, is a matter of prestige for his party, BJP faces the challenge of holding on to the 11 assembly seats won earlier by the party.

BJP chief Amit Shah also faces the challenge in the bypolls in UP as he is considered the main strategist behind the party’s stupendous success in last Lok Sabha poll.

SP is going all out to retain Mainpuri where the bypoll would mark the launch of Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, the gennext of the extended of Mulayam Singh Yadav family. Tej is the grandson of SP chief’s elder brother. The challenge for SP is not just to win the seat again but also to maintain the big margin with which Mulayama had romped home.

In Mainpuri, BSP and Congress have not fielded their candidates, leaving a straight contest between Tej Pratap Singh and BJP’s Shiv Singh Shakya.

BSP, which drew a blank in Lok Sabha polls, is not contesting the byelections.

The 11 Assembly seats in UP, whose outcome may be a pointer to which way the political wind is blowing in the run up to 2017 assembly polls, are Saharanpur Nagar, Noida, Thakurdwara, Bijnor, Nighasan, Balha, Sirathu, Rohaniya, Hamirpur, Charkhari and Lucknow East. All of these were vacated by BJP MLAs who won the Lok Sabha elections.

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