October 21 by-polls: Key constituencies to watch out for
New Delhi, Oct 20: Bypolls will take place to two Lok Sabha constituencies and 51 Assembly seats in 17 States on Monday. The two Lok Sabha seats where by-polls will be held are Samastipur in Bihar and Satara constituency in Maharashtra.
The exercise is coinciding with assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra, the first major elections after the BJP retained power in the Lok Sabha polls in April-May winning 303 seats out of 543.
The BJP and its allies had nearly 30 of these assembly seats, while the Congress had won 12 and the rest were with regional parties. Among the states ruled by the BJP and its allies, the maximum 11 seats will have bypolls in Uttar Pradesh, followed by six in Gujarat, five in Bihar, four in Assam and two each in Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
The other states where bypolls will be held are Punjab (4 seats), Kerala (5 seats), Sikkim (3 seats), Rajasthan (two seats) and one seat each in Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Meghalaya and Telangana.
The National Democratic Alliance candidate Prince Raj of the Lok Janshakti Party is in a direct contest with mahagathbandhan nominee Ashok Kumar of the Congress for the Samastipur Lok Sabha seat which fell vacant upon the death of sitting LJP MP Ram Chandra Paswan, younger brother of the party's founding president Ram Vilas Paswan.
By-polls to five assembly segments - four held by the JD(U) and one by the Congress - have been necessitated following the election of sitting MLAs to the Lok Sabha.
Ernakulam, known as a bastion of the Congress-led UDF, is one seat where you can witness high-stakes battle. The constituency has fallen vacant after former MLA Hibi Eden won the Lok Sabha polls from Ernakulam constituency.
Manu C Roy Left Democratic Front's candidate faces a daunting challenge in defeating Congress favourite, TJ Vinod. The BJP has opted to field CG Rajagopal.
Huzurnagar assembly constituency in Telangana, where the ruling TRS and opposition Congress,BJP and TDP are locked in a multi-cornered contest.
The bypoll, the first after last years assembly polls in Telangana, has been necessitated due to the resignation of state Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy following his election to the Lok Sabha.
Congress fielded Uttam Kumar Reddys wife N Padmavati, a former MLA, as its candidate, while TRS again favoured S Saidi Reddy, who lost to the PCC president in the Assembly polls.
Kota Rama Rao, a medical doctor, is the BJPs nominee and Chava Kiranmayi is the TDP candidate.
The bypoll is crucial for TRS to reaffirm its dominance in state politics as the party had suffered unexpected losses in the Lok Sabha polls.
Arch rivals BJP and Congress are leaving no stone unturned to win the October 21.
In Madhya Pradesh, where BJP' political greenhorn Bhanu Bhuria is set to take on Congress heavyweight Kantilal Bhuria.
The Congress, which is currently grappling with infighting in the state unit, had won the Jhabua Assembly seat 10 times, while BJP, its formidable challenger, had emerged victorious on this seat thrice since 1952.
The by-election was necessitated as BJP's G S Damor had resigned as Jhabua MLA after winning the Lok Sabha election from the Ratlam-Jhabua seat earlier this year.
The Congress has fielded, Rajman Benzam, a local tribal leader, while the BJP has given ticket to former MLA Lachhuram Kashyap for the bypoll to be held in the Maoist-affected Chitrakot constituency in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh.
Vikravand, Tamil Nadu
The DMK and the PMK are locked in a bitter battle for the Vanniyar vote in the Vikravandi Assembly byelection. Vikravandi constituency in Villupuram district fell vacant after the incumbent DMK legislator K Rathamani died in June this year.
Besides Vikravandi, Nanguneri in Tirunelveli district will also go to the polls on October 21, as H Vasantha Kumar who was the then sitting MLA, resigned from his post in May following his election to the Lok Sabha from Kanyakumari.
The BJD and BJP are locked in a direct fight while the Congress is hoping to pull it off as the bypoll to Bijepur assembly seat in Odisha's Bargarh district will be held on Monday.
The by-election to the politically sensitive constituency in west Odisha was necessitated after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who had won two segments in the assembly polls held early this year, resigned from Bijepur and retained his home turf Hinjili in Ganjam district.
The Phagwara reserved Assembly constituency is all set to witness an intense election battle between the Congress and the BJP.
The Congress is putting up a united show after all its factions buried their hatchet following intervention from party bigwigs and announced the candidature of bureaucrat-turned-politician Balwinder Singh from the seat on September 23.
While the BJP, plagued by factionalism, declared Rajesh Bagha, former Chairman of the state SC/ST Commission its candidate from the seat almost a week later on September 29, just a day before the last date of filing of nomination papers.
In politically crucial Uttar Pradesh, the polls are seen as a litmus test for the Yogi Adityanath government which has completed 30 months in office. It is a four-cornered contest with the BJP, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress fielding candidates on all 11 assembly seats. Eight of these seats were held earlier by the BJP and one by BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal). The seats of Rampur and Jalalpur (Ambedkarnagar) were held by the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, respectively.
The Congress is hoping to consolidate its thin majority in Rajasthan by wresting the two seats from the BJP and its ally RLP. Of the 200 assembly seats in Rajasthan, the Congress has 106 MLAs, including the six who defected to the party from the BSP recently.
Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang is contesting from Poklok Kamrang constitueny, one of the three seats where bypolls will be held in the state. Tamang aka Golay is the president of Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), which has tied up with the BJP. Former Indian football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia is contesting from Gangtok on Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP) ticket.
(with PTI inputs)