By-elections are underway in 4 Lok Sabha constituencies and 10 assembly seats across 6 states and one union territory in what is seen as the first real test for the BJP-led government at the Centre following the demonetisation of high denomination banknotes.
Among the four Lok Sabha seats are two from West Bengal and one each from Assam and Madhya Pradesh.
By-polls are being held for three assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu, two in Tripura, one each in Assam, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh and the union territory of Puducherry.
Polling began at 7 am on Saturday.
In West Bengal, by-elections are under way in Cooch Behar and Tamluk Lok Sabha constituencies and in Monteswar assembly constituency. The ruling Trinamool Congress, BJP, Left Front and Congress have fielded their candidates in all three seats.
Demonetisation has become a key issue in the last lap of campaign for the by-polls in West Bengal. Although chief minister Mamata Banerjee did not campaign for the by-polls, she has been in the forefront of political protest against the Centre’s demonetisation decision.
While the TMC, CPI(M) and Congress leaders have also slammed the demonetisation move because of the inconvenience it has caused to the people, the BJP insists that by-elections would be a litmus test for political parties.
“Around 36% polling has been recorded (till 11 am in the state). The polling has been peaceful. There has been no untoward incident,” an Election Commission official said.
Voting is also on in three Tamil Nadu assembly constituencies — Thirupparankundram, Aravakkurichi and Thanjavur, and one in Puducherry — Nellithope.
Nearly 7.54 lakh voters are expected to exercise their vote and decide the fate of 81 candidates in the fray in the constituencies of Thirupparankundram, Aravakkurichi and Thanjavur. Despite a large number of candidates, the battles is essentially between the ruling AIADMK and the main opposition DMK.
In Puducherry’s Nellithope, Congress leader and chief minister V Narayanasamy is up against AIADMK’s Om Shakthi Segar.
In Assam, more than 1.7 million electors will seal the fate of eight candidates in the fray for the Lakhimpur Lok Sabha constituency and Baithalangso assembly constituency. The Lakhimpur seat was vacated by Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal before the state assembly polls in April this year
Assam: People queue up to vote for Lakhimpur lok sabha bypoll pic.twitter.com/soUuooTUON— ANI (@ANI_news) November 19, 2016
By-polls are also being held for the Khowai and Barjala assembly seats in Tripura and Hayuliang assembly seat in Arunachal Pradesh
In Madhya Pradesh, by-elections are being held for the Shahdol Lok Sabha constituency and Nepanagar assembly seats. Polling for by-elections to Shahdol Lok Sabha constituency and Nepanagar assembly seats in the state witnessed over 15% voter turnout registered till 9 am in both seats, poll officials said.
Madhya Pradesh: Voting underway for Nepanagar assembly bypoll pic.twitter.com/9D8J3RfXIa— ANI (@ANI_news) November 19, 2016
A total 17 candidates are in the fray for the Shahdol LS seat. There are four candidates for the Nepanagar assembly seat.
The government has deployed 30 companies of armed police forces across the two constituencies for peaceful polling.