While the three Lok Sabha seats that are up for grabs are in Uttar Pradesh (Rampur and Azamgarh) and Punjab (Sangrur), the seven assembly seats are spread across Tripura, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi.
Counting for June 23 bypolls to three Lok Sabha seats and seven assembly seats across six states will take place on Sunday. While the three Lok Sabha seats that are up for grabs are in Uttar Pradesh (Rampur and Azamgarh) and Punjab (Sangrur), the seven assembly seats are spread across Tripura, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi.
While none of the results has the potential of an upturning of government, most are high-pitched, prestige battles with significant political pride at stake.
In Punjab’s Sangrur for instance, the seat that Bhagwant Mann has relinquished as a member of parliament to become the chief minister earlier this year, both ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and opposition parties are pondering the implications of a reduction in the voting percentage, from 72.4% in 2019 to 45.3% on June 23. The AAP is wary of the fact that a defeat could make the three-month-old Mann-led state government look weak, while for the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), a defeat will further dent the position of party president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is under fire for successive electoral defeats.
In Uttar Pradesh, the bypolls were held on the two prestigious Lok Sabha seats of Rampur and Azamgarh — considered Samajwadi Party (SP) bastions — vacated by Azam Khan and Akhilesh Yadav respectively. While both the SP and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state have said they campaigned extensively in both constituencies, the SP campaign has been marred by suggestions of infighting, with Akhilesh Yadav not going to Rampur to campaign. The BJP has fielded Bhojpuri film actor, singer Dinesh Lal Yadav Nirahua from Azamgarh and Ghanshyam Lodhi, an OBC, from Rampur.
Among the assembly elections, a high-stakes contest will be decided in the national capital in the Rajinder Nagar bypoll, which also saw a reduction in voting percentage, from 58.3% in 2020 to 43.75% three days back. The seat fell vacant after AAP legislator Raghav Chadha got elected to the Rajya Sabha from Punjab. The result will not affect the power equation in the Delhi assembly where the AAP holds a comfortable majority with 62 seats of the total 70 but some believe that since the bypoll is coming quickly after the unification of the municipal corporations, the result may help gauge the public mood. Ahead of the polling, both AAP and BJP exuded confidence of victory.
“AAP is going to win the seat with a huge margin,” said AAP candidate Durgesh Pathak.
BJP candidate Rajesh Bhatia also said: “We won the hearts of the voters and we will win the by-election as well.”
Four of the seven assembly seats going to the polls are in Tripura, where chief minister Manik Saha and powerful BJP-turned-Congress leader Sudip Roy Barman are both on the ballot, in the Town Bordowali and Agartala seats. The other two seats are Jubarajnagar and Surma. “The by-poll results are seen as a semifinal before the 60-seat assembly polls scheduled to be held in 2023,” said veteran political expert Chandan Dey.
In Jharkhand’s Mandar, the bypoll was necessitated after three-term legislator and a former minister Bandhu Tirkey was convicted by a special CBI court in a disproportionate assets case. Tirkey is one of four working presidents of Jharkhand Congress and the party has fielded his daughter Shilpi Neha Trikey on its symbol. Though 14 candidates are in the fray, Shilpi is otherwise locked in a direct contest against BJP’s Gangotri Kujur.
In Andhra Pradesh’s Atmakur, where the election was necessitated after the death of MLA and state industries minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy, the ruling YSR Congress Party has nominated his brother, Vikram Reddy. The principal opposition party, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), is not contesting and the BJP has fielded G Bharat Kumar Yadav.