Along with the second phase of polling in the Bihar assembly elections, voting for 54 other assembly seats in 10 states will also take place on Tuesday in the first electoral test for their political parties in the post-Covid-19 era. Although the ruling party in a state tends to win by-polls, a keen contest is awaited in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Karnataka. Except in Madhya Pradesh, the outcome of the bypolls will have no impact on incumbent state governments.
In MP, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) needs to win at least eight of the 28 assembly seats to retain a clear majority in the 230-member house. The Congress needs to win all seats to touch the 115 figure.
Even though 63 seats are vacant, the Election Commission announced polls for only 56 seats. The votes for all bypolls would be counted on November 10 along with those in Bihar.
Madhya Pradesh has witnessed hectic campaigning for the bypolls to 28 assembly seats both by the ruling BJP and the Congress in the past month as the results could impact the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led government.
There are 355 candidates in the fray, including 22 women. Over over 6 million voters are expected to vote at 9,361 polling centres in the 28 constituencies, 16 of which fall under the Gwalior-Chambal region, which also has a significant base of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The bypolls will decide the fate of 12 ministers of the state cabinet who are not members of the assembly.
The stage is set for multi-cornered contests in by-elections to seven assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh on which candidates from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress are in the fray. Elections will take place in Naugawan Sadat (Amroha), Bulandshahr, Tundla (Firozabad), Bangarmau (Unnao), Ghatampur (Kanpur), Deoria and Malhani (Jaunpur) constituencies.
Bypolls to eight assembly seats in Gujarat are due. The Congress will see a good performance in the bypolls as a sign of its revival before the 2022 assembly elections and the BJP would like to cement its position in state politics by winning all the seats.
All the three main parties in Karnataka – BJP, Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) – have made it a prestige battle to win the Sira and Raja Rajeshwari (RR) Nagar seats. The Sira seat fell vacant after the sitting JD(S) MLA B Satyanaryana died due to Covid-19. The RR Nagar seat is witnessing bypolls as the MLA Munirathna resigned and crossed over from Congress to BJP helping topple the JDS-Congress coalition in the state. Both the constituencies are Vokkaliga dominated. The outcome of the polls is unlikely to affect the power balance as BJP enjoys a clear majority with 117 members.
Of the two bypolls in Jharkhand, all eyes are on Dumka from where chief minister Hemant Soren’s younger brother Basant Soren is in the fray against former minister and BJP leader Louis Marandi.
The other constituency going to the polls is Bermo, which fell vacant after sitting Congress legislator Rajendra Prasad Singh died in May. The contest is two-cornered in both seats with the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Congress locked in a direct battle with BJP candidates.
In Chhattishgarh’s Marwahi constituency, the Congress’s Krishan Kumar Dhruv and BJP’sGambhir Singh are pitted against each other with no one from the Jogi clan in the fray for the first time in 20 years.
The election was necessitated after Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (Jogi) MLA and former chief minister Ajit Jogi’s death in May; his daughter-in-law Richa Jogi’s nomination was rejected on technical grounds. The party has extended support to BJP candidate alleging that the ruling Congress had insulted Ajit Jogi.
More than 500,000 voters would decide the fate of candidates in Balasore Sadar and Tirtol. Although the Congress is in the fray in both the constituencies, the fight in the two seats will be mainly between the BJP and BJD. Though the result of the bypolls will not have any bearing on the Naveen Patnaik government, the BJD has deployed over a dozen state ministers and 35 MLAs to win Balasore Sadar.
BJP’s Yogeshwar Dutt, an Olympian, is trying his luck for the second time as he takes on Indu Raj Narwal of the Congress. The Congress is hoping for a fourth straight win from this Jat-dominated constituency, riding on former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s popularity. A total of 14 candidates are contesting.