By-elections underway for 3 Lok Sabha, 7 Assembly seats; Tripura Chief Minister Manik Saha among prominent candidates


PTI

New Delhi, 23 June

Bypolls to three Lok Sabha and seven assembly seats spread across five states and one union territory, including Tripura Chief Minister Manik Saha, are being held on Thursday.

Counting of votes for Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand bypolls will be held on Sunday.

All eyes are on AAP in the by-polls to Punjab’s Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, which is facing its first test of popularity after its impressive performance in the assembly polls.

By-elections are being held in two Lok Sabha seats, Azamgarh and Rampur, which are considered strongholds of the opposition Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh.

On an average, more than eight per cent votes were cast in the first two hours of polling in Uttar Pradesh. The by-poll to Azamgarh seat was held in the wake of the resignation of Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav, who was elected to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly as an MLA in the elections held earlier this year.

The Rampur seat was vacated by senior SP leader Azam Khan, who was also elected to the state assembly. From Rampur, the BJP has fielded Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi, who recently joined the party, while the SP has fielded Asim Raja, who has been chosen by Khan. Mayawati-led BSP is not contesting from Rampur.

The Azamgarh seat is seeing a triangular contest among BJP’s Dinesh Lal Yadav ‘Nirhua’, a famous Bhojpuri actor-singer, SP’s Dharmendra Yadav and BSP’s Shah Alam, also known as Guddu Jamali.

All the four assembly constituencies falling in this Lok Sabha seat – Azamgarh, Mubarakpur, Sagdi, Gopalpur and Meghnagar – were won by the SP in the recent assembly elections.

In Tripura, by-elections are being held for four assembly seats in Agartala, Town Bardowali, Soorma and Jubarajnagar.

Bypolls in Agartala and Town Bardowali constituencies were necessitated after BJP legislators Sudip Roy Burman and Ashish Saha quit and joined the Congress in February.

The Soorma seat in Dhalai district fell vacant after BJP MLA Ashish Das was disqualified by Speaker Ratan Chakraborty and a bypoll in Jubrajnagar was held after the death of CPI(M) MLA Ramendra Chandra Devnath.

Chief Minister Saha, who is not a member of the Legislative Assembly, is contesting against Congress candidate Ashish Saha from Town Bardowali constituency.

The Trinamool Congress and the Left Front have fielded candidates on all four seats.

Around 12 per cent polling was recorded in the first two hours of the by-polls to the Atmakuru assembly seat in Andhra Pradesh.

The bypoll is being held to fill a vacancy caused by the death of the then Industries Minister Mekapati Gowtham Reddy in February. His brother Vikram Reddy is the ruling YSR Congress candidate and is pitted against BJP’s G Bharat Kumar Yadav.

Voting is going on in Delhi’s Rajinder Nagar seat.

The two main contenders – AAP and BJP – have expressed confidence that their candidates will win the bypolls by a huge margin.

Six companies of CAPFs (Central Armed Police Forces) personnel have been deployed for necessary security arrangements for the by-elections in view of AAP leader Raghav Chadha relinquishing the seat after being recently elected to the Rajya Sabha.

Chadha was an MLA from Rajinder Nagar assembly seat.

While the AAP has exuded confidence that it will register a “record victory” in the bypolls and give a crushing defeat to the BJP, the saffron party is hopeful of sweeping the seat from the ruling party, which won 62 out of 70 seats. 2020 Delhi election.

According to the people of the area, the AAP government’s liquor policy and water scarcity are among the major issues in the by-elections.

In Jharkhand, the by-election has started in Mandar assembly seat amid tight security arrangements. Polling is being held in 433 polling stations, out of which 141 polling stations have been declared as very sensitive, 218 as sensitive and 55 as sensitive.

The by-election was necessitated following the disqualification of Bandhu Tirkey as an MLA after being convicted in a corruption case.

The Congress has fielded the brothers’ daughter Shilpa Neha Tirkey as the common candidate of the JMM-led alliance, while the BJP has fielded former MLA Gangotri Kujur from the seat.

An independent candidate Dev Kumar Dhan, with backing from Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), is also in the fray.