The balloting for by-polls to seven assembly seats in Bihar, Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and Telangana began on Thursday morning before the counting of votes takes place on Sunday.
In Bihar, by-polls to Gopalganj and Mokama assembly seats are the first major electoral exercise since chief minister Nitish Kumar parted ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and formed the government with the help of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress and Left parties this year.
BJP lawmaker Subash Singh’s death necessitated the by-poll in Gopalganj. His widow, Kusum Devi, is the BJP’s nominee against RJD’s Mohan Gupta. The contest in Mokama is seen as a proxy fight between strongmen Anant Singh and Nalini Rajan Singh. Anant Singh’s wife, Neelam Devi, is RJD’s candidate. BJP has fielded Nalini Ranjan Singh’s wife, Sonam Devi. The seat fell vacant after Anant Singh was convicted in a criminal case.
The by-poll to the Munugode seat in Telangana is also among the keenly watched contests. Lawmaker Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy’s resignation from Congress necessitated the by-poll. He is re-contesting on the BJP ticket.
The BJP pulled out all the stops to win the Munugode assembly seat as it sees the election as a precursor to the 2023 polls in the state. Its campaign focussed on the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) alleged corruption and failure in meeting promises.
The BJP has sought to position itself as the principal opposition even as it won just one of the 119 seats in the 2018 assembly polls. It wrested the Dubbak and Huzurabad seats in 2021 by-polls.
Komatireddy’s main rival is TRS’s Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy. Congress has fielded Palvai Sravanthi.
The by-poll coincides with the Telangana leg of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Kanyakumari to Kashmir Bharat Jodo Yatra, the party’s biggest public contact exercise in years.
The by-election to the Andheri East Assembly constituency in Mumbai is a mere formality following the withdrawal of the BJP’s candidate last month. Rutuja Latke, the nominee of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction, is expected to register a comfortable win. She is pitted against six candidates, including four Independents. The Nationalist Congress Party and Congress have supported her candidature.
This is the first by-poll since Eknath Shinde’s revolt brought down chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s government in Maharashtra this year.
The by-election in Haryana’s Adampur is being held as Kuldeep Bishnoi quit the Congress to join the BJP. Bishnoi’s son, Bhavya, is the BJP candidate. Congress has fielded former Union minister Jai Prakash, a three-time Member of Parliament from Hisar.
Congress rebel Kurda Ram Nambardar is the Indian National Lok Dal’s candidate. Aam Aadmi Party has fielded Satender Singh after he quit the BJP.
The Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress have opted out of the by-poll to the Gola Gokarannath constituency in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district. The BJP and Samajwadi Party (SP) are in a direct fight there. BJP lawmaker Arvind Giri’s death on September 6 necessitated the by-poll. His son, Aman Giri, is BJP’s candidate. SP has fielded Vinay Tiwari. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath led the BJP’s campaign.
The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has fielded Abanti Das for the by-poll to the Dhamnagar constituency in Odisha. BJP’s nominee is Suryabanshi Suraj, the son of Bishnu Charan Sethi, whose death on September 19 necessitated the by-election. The Congress has fielded Baba Harekrushna Sethi. Former BJD lawmaker is contesting as an independent candidate.