Counting of votes begins for 51 assembly, 2 Lok Sabha seats in 17 states, 1 UT

Counting of votes began on Friday for 51 assembly seats and two Lok Sabha constituencies spread across 17 states and one Union territory where by-elections were held on Monday.

Counting will be held for the maximum 11 seats in Uttar Pradesh, followed by six in Gujarat, five in Bihar, four in Assam and two each in Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu among the states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies.

The other states and Union territory where by-polls were held were four seats in Punjab, five in Kerala, three in Sikkim, two in Rajasthan and one seat each in Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Meghalaya, Telangana and Puducherry.

Counting of votes will also be held in Satara in Maharashtra and Bihar’s Samastipur (Lok Sabha seats, which are held by the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Lok Janshakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP) respectively.

The BJP and its allies held nearly 30 of these assembly seats, the Congress had won 12 and the rest were with regional parties.

A moderate turnout of 57% was recorded in the by-elections held on Monday.

The by-polls are a battle of prestige for the parties as the results will not substantially change the seat arithmetic in the legislatures and will be more of a morale booster.

The by-polls are being seen as a mini assembly election in politically-crucial Uttar Pradesh. After sweeping the Lok Sabha election, the BJP hopes to strengthen its hold in state politics. For chief minister Yogi Adityanath, the results will be a referendum on his two-and-a-half-year-old government. He had led the party campaign, addressing rallies in all assembly segments.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress also mobilised their resources to make a comeback in state politics after the drubbing in the April-May Lok Sabha elections.

The BJP currently has 302 members out of 403 in the assembly. It was a four-cornered contest as the BJP, BSP, SP and Congress fielded their candidates on all the 11 assembly seats.

Eight of these seats were held earlier by the BJP and one by its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal). The seats of Rampur and Jalalpur (Ambedkarnagar) were held by the SP and BSP, respectively.

The state saw a low voter turnout of 47.05% in the by-polls.

In Rajasthan, it will be an opportunity for the ruling Congress to consolidate its thin majority if it is able wrest the Mandawa and Khinwsar assembly seats from the BJP and its ally RLP.

The Congress has 106 MLAs, including the six who defected to the party from the BSP recently, in the 200 assembly seats in Rajasthan.

Chief minister Prem Singh Tamang (Poklok Kamrang constituency) is among the candidates in Sikkim, where by-polls were held for three seats,

The strength of the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) is 18, while the BJP has 10 MLAs in the 32-member House. The Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) is left with one MLA after several others deserted the party.

Former Indian football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia contested from Gangtok on Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP) ticket.

By-elections were held on six seats in Gujarat – Radhanpur, Bayad, Kheralu, Amraiwadi, Lunawada and Tharad – and four of which were with the BJP and two with the Congress. The BJP has fielded former Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor from Radhanpur.

A Congress win in Punjab by-polls will be seen as an endorsement of chief minister Amarinder Singh’s policies. Out of the four seats, the BJP, Shiromani Akali Dal, Aam Aadmi Party and Congress held one seat each.

Counting of votes will also be held for Khonsa West seat in Arunachal Pradesh, Maoist-hit Chitrakot in Chhattisgarh, Huzurnagar in Telangana, Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh and Shella in Meghalaya.

The by-polls were held in Assam’s four constituencies of Sonari, Ratabari, Rangapara and Jania on Monday. Three of the seats were with the BJP and one with the Congress.

Votes will be counted in one parliamentary constituency and five assembly seats in Bihar in the by-polls, billed as the semi-finals as they were held just ahead of the state elections in 2020.

The by-polls held on Monday saw a fierce electoral battle of survival by the grand opposition alliance, mainly comprising of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, against the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the eastern state.

The ruling Janata Dal(United) had won four seats in Bihar while one was with Congress.

Results will be out for Pachhad and Dharamshala seats in Himachal Pradesh—both held by the ruling BJP earlier.

The ruling AIADMK and DMK are both looking for a moral edge with victory in Vikravandi and Nanguneri assembly seats in Tamil Nadu. Nanguneri was with the Congress and Vikravandi was represented by DMK MLA K Radhamani, who died in June this year.

A win in even one of the constituencies for the AIADMK will provide the much-needed fillip to the party which was routed in the recent Lok Sabha elections.

In Kerala, the by-elections were held in Vattiyoorkavu assembly constituency in Thiruvananthapuram, Konni in Pathanamthitta, Aroor in Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Manjeshwar in Kasaragod.

Four of these seats fell vacant after legislators were elected to Parliament—K Muralidharan from Kozhikode, Adoor Prakash from Attingal, Hibi Eden from Ernakulam—all Congress and the CPI(M)’s lone MP from Alappuzha AM Arif.

The death of Manjeshwar sitting MLA Abdul Razak, Muslim League leader, also made the by-poll necessary.

Counting of votes will also be held for assembly polls in Haryana and Maharashtra, the first major elections after the BJP retained power in the Lok Sabha elections winning 303 seats out of 543.

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