High turnout as bypolls held for 30 assembly, 3 Lok Sabha seats
There was high participation in the bypolls for 30 state assembly seats and three Lok Sabha constituencies, which were conducted mostly peacefully on Saturday amid tight security, social distancing and frequent sanitisation, as mandated by the Election Commission of India.
Although the results of the bypolls will not affect stability in any state government, they might point to trends and could be significant for some political parties.
Nearly 70% polling was recorded by 5 pm in the five assembly seats of Assam, Election Commission data show. Temporary malfunctions of voting machines were reported but polling was restored quickly, officials said. The voting was peaceful.
Two of the five seats, Tamulpur and Gossaigaon, were vacant because Covid-19 had claimed the lives of lawmakers from opposition Bodoland Peoples’ Front and ruling United Peoples Party Liberal. The other three are going to polls as two Congress MLAs, from Mariani and Thawra, and an All India United Democratic Front MLA from Bhabanipur, resigned from their parties and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In Bihar, bypolls in two constituencies, Tarapur and Kushweshwar Asthan, saw voter turnout at 49.59% at 5pm, lower than the 54.76% in the 2020 assembly polls. The percentage might rise slightly. There was no untoward incident reported from any constituency, Bihar’s chief electoral officer H R Srinivasa said in a media briefing. There were some preventive arrests, according to Jitendra Singh Gangwar, additional director general of police.
The bypolls saw the return of Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav to active campaigning after several years of jail in Ranchi, and then health complications in Delhi.
Over 73% voter turnout was recorded till 5 pm in the Ellenabad byelection in Haryana, election officials said. No incident of violence was reported and polling went smoothly, said Sirsa deputy commissioner Anish Yadav. The three main contestants are Indian National Lok Dal candidate Abhay Singh Chautala, his former aide and Congress nominee Pawan Beniwal, and the BJP’s Gobind Kanda, although 17 candidates are in the fray.
Average voter turnout in West Bengal bye-elections to four assembly constituencies – Khardah, Santipur, Gosaba and Dinhata – was recorded, officials said. There were some reports of intimidation by political workers.
“Some men came last night on motorcycles and threatened by son, who is a BJP polling agent. I didn’t allow him to go out,” said Madhabi Das, mother of Tapas Das and a resident of Santipur in Nadia.
While two of the seats, Dinhata and Santipur, were won by the BJP in the March-April polls, the winners did not take oath in order to retain their Lok Sabha seats. In the other two, the Trinamool Congress’ candidates died. At Gosaba in South 24 Parganas, a BJP polling agent’s house was set on fire on Friday night. At Khardah, the car of Tanmay Bhattacharya, a former CPI (M) legislator, was attacked with bricks.
“Multiple incidents of violence have been reported since last night,” said Samik Bhattacharya, BJP spokesperson.
“The BJP knows that they are going to lose and are raising such allegations as excuses,” said Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, TMC minister and party leader.
At the fag-end of polling day on Saturday, there was tension at Khardah in North 24 Paraganas after security guards of BJP candidate Joy Saha allegedly assaulted Aryadeep Sinha, son of former TMC legislator Kajal Sinha. Kajal Sinha had died after testing positive for Covid-19, necessitating the bypolls.
In Madhya Pradesh, 63.02% voters in three assembly constituencies – Raigaon, Jobat and Prithvipur – and 59.02% in a lok Sabha constituency – Khandwa – cast their ballots till 5 pm. A teacher, Dayaram Jatav, deployed in Badwaha, Khandwa, for poll duty, died of cardiac arrest. In Prithvipur, BJP election in-charge and urban development minister Bhupendra Singh accused Congress for rigging and threatening voters. However, state Congress president Kamal Nath said, “The BJP has accepted its defeat and that’s why they are making false accusations.”
The turnout in the Deglur bypoll was about 63.33% but will rise, officials said. Congress’s Jitesh Antapurkar and BJP’s Subhash Sabne are key contestants from the constituency in central Maharashtra.