Bypolls: Voting lowest in Punjab, Tripura records 76.6 pc polling
New Delhi, Jun 23: Polling was by and large peaceful in the bypolls for three Lok Sabha and seven assembly seats spread across five states and Delhi on Thursday barring an incident of stabbing of a policeman in Tripura, where polling was the highest at 76.62 per cent. In Punjab, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, the turnout was below 45 per cent while it was 56 per cent in Jharkhand and 67 per cent in Andhra Pradesh.
The final figures are likely to change. In Uttar Pradesh, where the turnout was 43 per cent in the bypolls to the Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha seats, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav accused the ruling BJP of misusing power to disrupt voting. He alleged that though the Election Commission was informed about the developments, the election machinery remained a mute spectator. SP workers were harassed and undue pressure was created on them to vote for BJP candidates, he alleged. The turnout in Tripura for the by-elections to four assembly constituencies was an impressive 76.62 per cent.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Kiran Gitte said off-duty police constable Samir Saha was stabbed in Kunjaban area in Agartala constituency, adding he is undergoing treatment at a hospital. Opposition Congress demanded repoll in four booths of Agartala constituency, claiming largescale rigging, while TMC alleged that "democracy was murdered" in the name of by-elections. The ruling BJP exuded confidence in winning all the four seats -- Agartala, Jubarajnagar, Surma and Town Bardowali. Chief Minister Manik Saha is contesting from Town Bardowali. He needs to win this election to continue as the chief minister. He is a Rajya Sabha member who was sworn in last month after the then chief minister Biplab Deb's sudden resignation. The TMC, which is trying to make inroads in the state, alleged large-scale rigging by "BJP-backed goons".
Punjab saw a low turnout of just over 37 per cent in the bypoll to the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency. In a tweet, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann demanded from the Election Commission that the voting time be extended till 7 pm, citing that many people were still working in fields due to the paddy-sowing season. The Sangrur deputy commissioner-cum-returning officer and the state chief secretary also sought extension of polling time from the election panel. The poll panel pulled up the officials over the request, asking them to explain why they sought extension of polling time towards closing hours, saying it amounted to "attempt of unduly interfering in the election process and influence certain class of voters".
Over 43 per cent voters in the Rajinder Nagar assembly constituency in Delhi exercised their franchise in the bypoll. The bypoll is largely being seen as a battle between a confident AAP and a spirited BJP. Nearly 67 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the by-election to Atmakuru assembly constituency in Andhra Pradesh. Except some minor incidents, the polling went on without any incident of violence, serious complaint and interruption, State Chief Electoral Officer Mukesh Kumar Meena said. In Battepadu village in Atmakuru mandal, Independent candidate T Sasidhar Reddy raised an objection alleging campaigning inside a polling station by ruling YSR Congress activists.
He also alleged that the authorities were turning a blind eye to it and picked up an argument with police. Following intervention by senior officials, the issue subsided even as the polling continued unhindered. The BJP alleged that its polling agent was kidnapped from a polling station in Krishnapuram village but police denied any such thing happened. Police tried to disperse a mob of YSRC workers, gathered near a polling station in Padamatinayudu Palli. The ruling party workers initially resisted the police attempt but were later sent away from the scene. In Jharkhand, 56.03 per cent polling was reported in the Mandar assembly bypoll in Ranchi district.
The by-election was necessitated after the disqualification of Bandhu Tirkey as an MLA in the wake of his conviction in a corruption case. The Congress has fielded Bandhu's daughter, Shilpa Neha Tirkey, as the common candidate of the JMM-led alliance, while BJP has nominated former legislator Gangotri Kujur. The bypoll to the Azamgarh seat in Uttar Pradesh was necessitated by the resignation of SP chief Yadav, who was elected to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly as an MLA in the elections earlier this year. The Rampur seat was vacated by senior SP leader Azam Khan, who too was elected to the state assembly.
In Punjab, the bypoll was necessitated by the resignation of Mann from the Lok Sabha after he was elected as an MLA in the state assembly elections earlier this year. He had won the Sangrur seat in the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections. The bypolls in Agartala and Town Bardowali in Tripura were necessitated after Sudip Roy Barman and Asish Saha quit as BJP MLAs and joined the Congress in February. The Surma seat in Dhalai district fell vacant after BJP legislator, Asish Das, was disqualified by Speaker Ratan Chakraborty and bypoll to Jubarajnagar was necessitated following the death to sitting CPI(M) MLA Ramendra Chandra Debnath.
In Andhra Pradesh, the bypoll is being held to fill the vacancy caused due to the death of then Industries Minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy in February. His brother Vikram Reddy is the ruling YSR Congress candidate and he is locked in a contest with BJP's G Bharat Kumar Yadav. The bypoll in Delhi was necessitated in the wake of AAP leader Raghav Chadha leaving the seat after being elected to the Rajya Sabha recently. PTI