Assembly Bypolls Witness Varied Voter Turnout Across Indian States

Assembly Bypolls Witness Varied Voter Turnout Across Indian States

New Delhi - High voter turnout was registered in most of the six assembly constituencies across seven states where the by-election took place on Tuesday.

The vote counting is scheduled for September 8 for this by-election, which is viewed as a crucial test for the opposition alliance INDIA against the BJP-led NDA, leading up to the assembly polls in five states later this year and the 2023 Lok Sabha election.

In Tripura's Dhanpur and Boxanagar constituencies, where the Congress extended support to the CPI(M), the average voter turnout was approximately 76 percent. Unfortunately, there were a few incidents of violence in the northeastern state, resulting in injuries to six individuals.

In West Bengal's Dhupguri and Kerala's Puthuppally, where INDIA bloc constituents faced off against each other, the voter turnout stood at around 76 percent and nearly 73 percent, respectively.

The by-election also witnessed the INDIA alliance presenting a united front in Uttar Pradesh's Ghosi constituency, where the voter turnout was moderate at approximately 50.30 percent. In Jharkhand's Dumri, 64.84 percent of the 2.98 lakh voters exercised their franchise.

Uttarakhand's Bageshwar, where the main contest is between the BJP and the Congress, recorded a voter turnout of 55.44 percent.

Among the seven seats, three (Dhanpur, Bageshwar, and Dhupguri) were held by the BJP, and one each by the SP (Ghosi), CPI(M) (Boxanagar), JMM (Dumri), and the Congress (Puthuppally).

In Uttar Pradesh, the Ghosi seat became vacant after the resignation of Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA and OBC leader Dara Singh Chauhan, who rejoined the BJP.

While the ruling BJP-led NDA has fielded Chauhan, Samajwadi Party candidate Sudhakar Singh received support from the Congress and Left parties. Chauhan was a minister in the previous BJP government under Yogi Adityanath's leadership. He resigned from the Council of Ministers on January 12, 2022, and switched to the SP.

The Akhilesh Yadav-led party has raised concerns about the alleged misuse of official machinery and has reported the matter to the Election Commission. They claim that Muslim voters were prevented from voting in some places. Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak rejected these allegations, asserting that the opposition party is apprehensive of losing in the bypoll.

The Dhupguri assembly constituency in North Bengal witnessed a three-way contest among the TMC, BJP, and the Congress-supported CPI(M). While the TMC won the seat in 2016, the BJP secured it in 2021.

The polling took place under tight security across 260 booths in the constituency, with central paramilitary forces stationed at all polling stations, according to an election official. During the voting, two BJP leaders, including an MLA, who were not residents of the constituency, were found in a party office. One of them, the BJP district president, had to leave as he couldn't provide any documentation allowing him entry into Dhupguri during the voting.

In Tripura's Dhanpur Assembly constituency, six individuals were injured when they were allegedly attacked by villagers at Mohanbhog. The villagers also set fire to five motorcycles, leading to tension. However, the situation was eventually brought under control, as reported by a police officer. The injured individuals were admitted to the hospital and are now in stable condition.

"I urge the people to maintain peace during the polling and continue the tradition of peaceful voting as seen in the previous assembly elections," Chief Minister Manik Saha said in a Facebook post.

The main opposition, Tipra Motha, and Congress decided to stay away. The Tripura Pradesh Congress had urged people to vote for INDIA candidates in the two seats.

In minority-dominated Boxanagar constituency, BJP's Tafajjal Hussain, who unsuccessfully contested the Assembly election in February, is competing against CPI(M)'s Mizan Hussain, which is still considered the Left party's stronghold.

Dhanpur, once a communist stronghold, is witnessing a direct contest between BJP's Bindu Debnath and CPI(M)'s Kaushik Debnath. The BJP won the Dhanpur seat for the first time in the assembly poll held seven months ago. The Boxanagar by-election was necessitated by the death of CPI(M) MLA Samsul Haque.

In Jharkhand's Dumri, INDIA bloc candidate Bebi Devi is in a direct contest with NDA candidate Yashoda Devi.

The election proceeded peacefully across 199 polling booths in Giridih and 174 booths in Bokaro district. There were no reports of violence or law and order issues from any location," said Giridih district election officer Naman Priyesh Lakra.

The polling took place under tight security in 373 polling stations, with 200 of them identified as Maoist-affected areas.

This seat has become a matter of prestige for both alliances, with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) claiming that the INDIA bloc will start its victory journey from Dumri, while the NDA is confident of winning the seat from JMM.

The INDIA bloc includes 28 parties, such as the Congress, NCP faction led by Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena (UBT), TMC, JMM, AAP, DMK, NC, PDP, CPI(M), CPI, RJD, SP, and RLD.

The by-election was necessitated by the death of JMM MLA Jagarnath Mahto, a former education minister, in April. Mahto had been representing the seat since 2004.

However, in Kerala's Puthuppally bypoll, the Congress and the ruling Left went head-to-head, with the state's opposition party relying on "anti-incumbency" and the late Oommen Chandy's legacy. Intermittent rainfall did not deter voters from casting their ballots.

The UDF alleged that there was slow polling in select booths, with people having to wait for several hours to vote. LDF candidate Jaick C Thomas stated that if there were any delays in the polling process at some booths, it should be investigated.

The Congress-led UDF opposition fielded Chandy's son, Chandy Oommen, to capitalize on the sympathy wave following the former CM's death. On the other hand, the ruling Left once again chose DYFI leader Thomas, who had previously contested the segment in 2016 and 2021 against the late Chandy.

In Uttarakhand, the BJP and the Congress are engaged in a direct contest. According to Bageshwar District Magistrate Anuradha Paul, the bypoll recorded a 55.44 percent voter turnout.

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