(inputs from agencies)
Imphal, May 28,
Polling is underway for by-elections to four Lok Sabha seats and 10 Assembly constituencies spread over 10 states. Voting began at 7 this morning amidst tight security.
Lok Sabha seats where bypolls are being held are Kairana in Uttar Pradesh, Palghar and Bhandara-Gondiya in Maharashtra and the sole parliamentary constituency in Nagaland.
Assembly constituencies where bypolls are being held are Noorpur in Uttar Pradesh, Shahkot in Punjab, Jokihat in Bihar, Gomia and Silli in Jharkhand, Chengannur in Kerala, Palus Kadegaon in Maharashtra, Ampati in Meghalaya, Tharali in Uttarakhand and Maheshtala in West Bengal.
In Nagaland, 60 percent of voters cast their votes till 1 pm in bypoll to the lone Lok Sabha Parliamentary Constituency.
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio cast his vote at a polling booth at Touphema Basa village, around 25 km from the state capital, around 10 am, sources said.
The ruling People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA), which has the NDPP and the BJP as it major constituents, has fielded former minister Tokheho Yepthomi from the seat.
Yepthomi is pitted against Opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) nominee C Apok Jamir. The Congress has also extended its support to Jamir.
Altogether 11,97,436 people are eligible to exercise their franchise at 2196 polling stations across the state, Nagaland Chief Electoral Officer Abhijit Sinha said.
Voting began at 7 AM and will go on till 4 PM in 1887 polling stations, while it will end an hour ahead in 309 booths, the CEO said.
“In 309 booths, set up in faraway places with barely any transportation facilities, the polling will end at 3 PM for the convenience of the election officials,” he said.
Altogether, 40 companies of Central Armed Police Forces along with 80 companies of Nagaland Armed Police, 770 Home Guards and 2600 village guards have been deployed across the state to ensure free and fair polls, Sinha added.
The bypoll was necessitated after Rio, who is also the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) leader, resigned as a Lok Sabha member in February, days before the assembly polls.
Polling is also underway to the Rajarajeshwari Nagar Assembly constituency in Karnataka.
The election was postponed after thousands of voter cards along with around one lakh counterfoils were seized from a house in SLV Park View Apartment in Bengaluru.
All eyes are on politically-crucial Kairana Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh. Besides Kairana in western UP, by-election is held in Bhandara-Gondiya and Palghar parliamentary constituencies in Maharashtra, and Nagaland Lok Sabha seat. The Kairana bypoll will see a joint opposition taking on the ruling BJP. The Kairana Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after the death of BJP MP Hukum Singh, whose daughter Mriganka Singh is now the party’s candidate for the by-election. She is contesting against Rashtriya Lok Dal’s (RLD) Tabassum Hasan, who is supported by the Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
The joint opposition, which includes Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, hopes that by consolidating anti-BJP votes, they will repeat the success of the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha by-elections, where the BJP suffered an unexpected defeat.
In Maharashtra’s Palghar Lok Sabha seat, over 10 percent voting was recorded till 11 am. Voting was disrupted in Bhandara-Gondia constituency due to technical snag in about 450 voting machines.
All four major parties — the BJP, Shiv Sena, Sharad Pawar’s NCP, and Congress — have campaigned aggressively for the Lok Sabha by-elections in Mahrashtra’s Palghar and Bhandara-Gondiya,. The outcome is significant as it is likely to have a bearing on their future course. The Shiv Sena has fielded late BJP MP Chintaman Wanaga’s son Shriniwas Wanaga in Palghar, much to the dislike of the BJP which has in-turn nominated Rajendra Gavit, who switched over from the Congress. In Bhandra-Gondia, Nana Patole quit as the BJP MP and resigned from the ruling party to return to the Congress earlier this year, necessitating the by-election. The ruling BJP has locked horns with the NCP for retaining the Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha seat while in Palghar, it is in a direct fight with the ally Shiv Sena even though the contest is multi-cornered.
The assembly by-elections are taking place in Maharashtra’s Palus Kadegaon constituency, Uttar Prades’s Noorpur, Bihar’s Jokihat, Jharkhand’s Gomia and Silli, Kerala’s Chengannur, Meghalaya’s Ampati, Punjab’s Shahkot, Uttarakhand’s Tharali and West Bengal’s Maheshtala. General election to Karnataka’s Rajarajeshwari Nagar assembly seat is also taking place today.
In Punjab’s Shahkot assembly seat 44 per cent polling was recorded till 1 PM. The seat fell vacant after the death of sitting Akali Dal legislator Ajit Singh Kohar in February.