The two Lok Sabha by-elections in Andhra Pradesh and the 11 assembly by-polls in 10 states are, in many ways, a test case for the chief ministers and the regional leaders concerned and could, in certain cases, even affect the political equations in these states. Counting of votes for Monday's elections will take place on Thursday.
The Lok Sabha by-poll in Karimnagar is a battle between Telengana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K Chandrashekhara Rao---seeking re-election on the slogan of a separate Telengana---and his bete noire Andhra chief minister Y Rajashekhara Reddy though the Congress nominee is his ministerial colleague G Venkat Reddy and the party's theme song the development of the state and the region. Other formidable candidates in the fray are Telugu Desam's L Ramanna and Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Vidyasagar Rao.
Rao's victory may not immediately affect the Reddy government that enjoys a comfortable majority, but it would give the TRS's pro-Telengana campaign a boost and help him rally other supporters. Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal have earlier backed his demand.
In Kota (Chhattisgarh), the battle is as much between the Congress and the BJP as it is between Congressmen, with former chief minister Ajit Jogi securing a ticket for his wife Renu despite opposition from All India Congress Committee treasurer Motilal Vora and Pradesh Congress Committee chief Charan Das Mahant. Renu's victory would emphasise Jogi's dominance in state politics.
In Islampur (West Bengal), Parliamentary Affairs Minister PR Dasmunsi's prestige is at stake. He found himself cornered when, notwithstanding the recent Congress-Trinamool bonhomie, Mamata Bannerjee unilaterally announced the candidature of Abdul Karim Chowdhury (a known Dasmunsi-baiter) and senior leader Pranab Mukherjee left it to his ministerial colleague to decide whether the Congress should contest the seat. The constituency is important as it is part of Dasmunsi' Raiganj Lok Sabha seat and adjoins his wife Deepa's assembly segment, Goalpokhar, in North Dinajpur district.
Chamundeshwari (Karnataka) will decide the fate of former deputy chief minister Siddaramaiah who fell out with JD(S) leader HD Deve Gowda and joined the Congress which now hopes to expand its influence among his kuruba (shepherd) community. On test are also chief minister HD Kumaraswamy and his father Deve Gowda. The battle in Chamundeshwari has been reduced to a caste war, with Siddaramaiah fighting to retain the seat he represented four times. This time he is contesting on behalf of a party he has attacked for 25 years.
It's a four-way test in Chimur and Daryapur (Maharashtra). It will reflect Vilasrao Deshmukh government's standing with the people after the Dalit killings and violence in the state, including in Vidarbha. It will reveal whether Shiv Sena-turned-Congress leader Narayan Rane's retains his clout as the two nominees, PP Bharsakale and V Wadettiwar, had quit the Sena and their seats to join him in the Congress. And despite the BJP-Shiv Sena seat-sharing agreement, tensions remain, with the Sena worried that if the BJP leveled up, it might reopen the debate on the post of the leader of Opposition.
Elections were also held on Monday in Dungarpur (Rajasthan) where the three-year-old Vasundhara Raje government's image is under scrutiny, Manihari (Bihar), Thiruvambadi (Kerala), Pandhana-SC (Madhya Pradesh), Rongjeng-ST (Meghalaya) and Roing-ST (Arunachal) and the Bobbili Lok Sabha in Andhra Pradesh.