Voting underway for assembly by-polls in UP, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Tripura
Voting for by-elections to four assembly seats in Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Tripura, and Uttar Pradesh are being held on Monday.
The results will be declared on September 27.
Uttar Pradesh’s Hamirpur constituency is witnessing a four-cornered contest, with candidates from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and the Congress in the field.
The by-poll, the first to be held after the Lok Sabha election, is being held after the disqualification of sitting BJP MLA Ashok Kumar Singh Chandel following his conviction in a murder case.
The prominent among the nine candidates are Yuwraj Singh (BJP), Hardeepak Nishad (Congress), Manoj Kumar Prajapati (SP), Naushad Ali (BSP) and Jamal Alam Mansoori (Communist Party of India).
More than 400,000 voters will be deciding the electoral fortunes of the candidates in the fray. There are 220,000 lakh male voters, 181,000 lakh female voters and 10 third gender voters.
As many as 476 polling booths have been set up in 257 polling centres. VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) machines will be installed at every polling booth.
Paramilitary forces have been deployed in adequate numbers to ensure peaceful polls. Webcasting will be done from 52 booths to keep a watch over critical booths.
Voting is also being held under tight security in Dantewada assembly constituency. Chhattisgarh’s Chief Electoral officer Subrat Sahoo has said polling will end at 3pm.
The by-poll for the constituency reserved for Scheduled Tribe candidate was necessitated following the death of BJP legislator Bhima Mandavi, who was killed in a Maoist attack on April 9 just three days before the parliamentary elections.
The Congress has again fielded Devati Karma, who narrowly lost to Bhima Mandavi in 2018, while the BJP has given the ticket to Bhima Mandavi’s wife Ojaswi Mandavi. Seven other candidates are also in the fray.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and former CM Raman Singh were the chief campaigners for their parties.
While the Congress highlighted the pro-farmers and pro-tribal policies started by the government in the last nine months, the BJP attacked the Congress for alleged vendetta politics and sought votes citing work done in Raman Singh’s 15-year rule.
There are 1,88,263 voters, including 89,747 males and 98,876 females, and 273 polling stations have been set up for the by-election. More than 1,300 personnel have been deputed in polling teams.
Around 18,000 security personnel are deployed for the by-poll in Dantewada.
Extra precaution is being taken as Maoists are observing their annual “foundation week” from September 21 to 27 and chances of disturbances are high, Director General of Police (DGP), DM Awasthi had said.
The by-election in Pala in Kerala’s Kottayam district was also necessitated following the death of Kerala Congress (Mani) leader KM Mani, who represented the constituency from 1965 and retained it till his death in April this year.
As many as 13 candidates are in the fray in the constituency with 1,79,107 voters.
Stakes are high for the three major players in Pala. For the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) it is an opportunity to avenge the humiliating defeat in Lok Sabha poll in which it lost all but one of 20 seats.
And for the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) it is a prestigious fight to keep memories of its tall leader alive and the front wants to keep its winning streak. An also-ran in state politics, the BJP also threw its hat in the ring hoping to make some presence.
The Kerala Congress (Mani) has fielded senior leader Jose Tom Pulikunnel in crucial Pala assembly constituency. The ruling LDF has fielded Nationalist Congress Party leader Mani C Kappan who lost to KM Mani in the last three elections.
The BJP’s Kottayam district president N Hari is the NDA candidate. In the last election, BJP candidate N Hari had managed around 25,000 votes and KM Mani’s winning margin was around 5,000 votes.
Voting is also taking place for Tripura’s Badharghat assembly seat, where the contest is three-pronged among the BJP, CPI(M) and the Congress.
The by-poll to the constituency, the state’s largest with over 50,000 voters, was necessitated after the death of sitting BJP MLA Dilip Sarkar in early April this year after a prolonged illness. The 62-year-old Sarkar was a former Tripura minister and a five-time MLA from Badharghat in Agartala.
The BJP’s Mimi Majumder Das, Congress’ Ratan Das and CPI(M) candidate Bulti Biswas, a councillor of Agartala Municipal Corporation, are in the fray.