18 Constituencies in MP, Karnataka, Punjab, Bihar Go to Polls

Bypolls in Punjab, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh alongwith Bihar have been overall peaceful, though marked by low turnout in some constituencies.

Bihar

A paltry 47 per cent voting was registered in the crucial bypolls to 10 Assemby seats in Bihar today, five per cent less than recorded in the 2010 Assembly poll.

The bypolls are an indicator of whether the "Mandal forces" represented by Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar, who buried their two decades of differences to come together, have managed to stop the BJP juggernaut which rode on a Narendra Modi wave.

According to an Election Commission statement, the Narkatiaganj constituency saw the maximum voting among 10 seats at 58 per cent. The BJP fielded Rashmi Verma, a kin of the first President of the country, Dr Rajendra Prasad, from the seat. She is pitted against Fakruddin Khan of Congress.

Whereas Bhagalpur saw the minimum at mere 37 per cent at the end of voting at 6 PM, the EC statement said.

In the Assembly poll the constituency had witnessed 42.62 per cent voting on which BJP leader Ashwani Choubey who is now MP from here had won.

Voting percentage was 42 at Rajnagar (SC) seat, Jale (44 per cent), Chapra (47.4 per cent), Hajipur (46 per cent), Mohiuddinnagar (57 per cent), Parbatta (45 per cent), Banka (45 per cent) and Mohania (SC) (48.2 per cent), the EC said.

The Chapra seat which has considerable influence of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad registered increased voting percentage at 47.4 today vis-a-vis 44.73 in the 2010 poll.

But, Hajipur which forms part of LJP chief and Union minister Ramvilas Paswan Lok Sabha constituency saw almost 10 per cent lower voting percentage at 46 per cent that it was in 2010 Assembly poll.

The bypolls are a litmus test for the Lalu-Nitish combine to stage a comeback in Bihar politics after a near rout in the general election. The outcome of the bypoll, the first major political event after the general elections, is significant as it will show the mood of the people before next year's Assembly polls.

Counting of votes will take place on August 25. Stakes are also high for the BJP-led NDA in the bypoll. Six out of the 10 seats were won by the BJP in the 2010 Assembly election. Moreover, they have the challenge to prove that massive victory in the recent general election was not a fluke.

Considering this in mind, the BJP leaders along with its allies LJP and Rashtriya Loktantrik Samata Party (RLSP) aggressively campaigned for the bypoll. 

Altogether 94 candidates, including five women, are in the fray. Hajipur has maximum 15 contestants while Banka and Rajnagar (SC) have a minimum of six candidates each.

There was a total of 26,42,407 voters in the 10 constituencies having 2,422 booths. Except for Maoist-hit Hajipur, Parbatta and Banka where voting was from 7:00 AM to 4.00 PM, in the remaining seven constituencies the duration was 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

No untoward incident has been reported from anywhere during the voting which took place under tight security. According to the EC statement, a total of 33 persons were arrested during voting and 12 vehicles seized.

In all 170 video cameras and 915 digital cameras were used for voting during the day. Live webcasting was done on 222 polling booths.

The outcome of the by-polls would not have much impact on the functioning of the government as Jitan Ram Manjhi ministry supported by RJD, Congress, CPI and 2 Independents enjoyed a strength of 144, 22 more than the magic figure of 122.

 

Punjab

Bypolls to the Assembly seats of Talwandi Sabo and Patiala, where former Union minister Preneet Kaur is one of the contestants, were today held peacefully with around 70 and 62 per cent polling respectively.

Giving details, Punjab Chief Electoral Officer V K Singh said here, "Barring firing of few gun shots in air at Rama Mandi in Talwandi Sabo, there was no incident of violence and the polling ended peacefully."

However, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party alleged that the ruling SAD-BJP coalition government "misused" the official machinery and "bribed" voters to influence them to vote in favour of its candidates.

Reports here said that live gun shots were fired allegedly by Akali supporters and vehicles were damaged allegedly by Congress activists at Rama Mandi in Talwandi Sabo.

However, no injuries were reported in the incident, the Punjab's CEO said. Both the seats are witnessing a triangular contest among ruling SAD, Congress and the AAP.

Meanwhile, Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa condemned the "attack" by "Akalis" on Congress candidate Harminder Singh Jassi in Rama Mandi.

He slammed the Akali Dal for allegedly resorting to booth capturing and pressure tactics in villages like Dunewal, Jeon Singhwala, Malkana, Giana, Bhagwanpur, some wards of Rama Mandi, Bangi Nihal Singh, Leleana and Shergarh in Talwandi Sabo Assembly constituency.

The number of voters in Talwandi Sabo is 1,44,316 while in Patiala there are 1,51,461 electors. While a total of eight contestants are in fray for Patiala seat, Talwandi Sabo seat is being contested by seven candidates.

Patiala is witnessing a triangular contest among Preneet Kaur, former union minister and wife of Congress leader Amarinder Singh, Bhagwan Das (SAD) and Harjeet Singh of AAP. Preneet Kaur had lost the recent Lok Sabha polls to AAP's Dharamvira Gandhi.

Talwandi Sabo too is witnessing a triangular contest among Congress candidate Harminder Singh Jassi, SAD's Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu and AAP's Bajinder Kaur.

At Talwandi Sabo, Balkar Singh is in fray as an Independent candidate. Initially, he was declared as an AAP candidate but later was dropped and replaced by Baljinder Kaur (29).

The bypolls were necessitated in Patiala after sitting MLA Amarinder Singh got elected to Lok Sabha from Amritsar while in Talwandi Sabo, sitting Congress MLA Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu deserted the party to join the ruling SAD.

In the 117-member Punjab Assembly, the strength of ruling SAD is 56, its ally BJP 12, Congress has 44 members while there are three independents. To gain simple majority, SAD requires two more members so that its tally in the Assembly reaches 58.

Madhya Pradesh

More than 70 per cent of the electorate exercised their right to franchise until 5 pm in the three bypolls in Madhya Pradesh for the Bahoriband, Vijayraghogarh and Agar assembly constituencies amidst reports of a poll boycott at a polling station.

Overall polling was peaceful, with no untoward incident reported from anywhere, election office sources said.

Until 6 pm, 69.01 per cent of votes were polled in Agar, 68.10 per cent of votes were polled in Vijayraghavgarh and 75.20 per cent of voters exercised their franchise in Bahoriband, sources said.

Initially, voters had boycotted polling at five centres in Agar, two centres in Vijayraghavgarh and one centre in Bahoriband because of local issues related to development.

However, after officials persuaded villagers, voting began in all polling booths in Agar as well as Vijayraghavgarh, though voters in Sadanpur polling station in Bahoriband seat remained adamant and not a single vote was polled there.

The Congress has fielded Vijendra Mishra against BJP's Sanjay Pathak from Vijayraghavgarh.

Pathak had won the seat on a Congress ticket in 2013, but later he joined BJP due to differences with Congress leaders, which necessitated a bypoll in the constituency.

The Congress has fielded Sourabh Singh from Bahoriband while the BJP fielded Pranav Pandey, since his father Prabhat Pandey, who won the polls in 2013 passed away.

The Congress has fielded Rajkumar Gore against BJP's Gopal Parmar from Agar.

 

Karnataka

An estimated 77 per cent voter turnout was reported today in the by-election to three assembly constituencies in Karnataka that saw ruling Congress and BJP locked in a fierce fight.

The bypolls are the first popular test for the Siddaramaiah government as also BJP after the Lok Sabha polls.

Polling was peaceful, electoral officials said, giving the voting percentage after the exercise as Chikkodi-Sadalga (86), Bellary Rural (72) and Shikaripura (71). The three constituencies have a total electorate of over 5.57 lakh.

For Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, a lot is at stake as he faced the first popularity test after Congress' not so impressive show in the Lok Sabha polls in which it managed to secure only nine of the 28 seats against a resurgent BJP's 17.

After its sterling performance in the 2013 assembly polls, Congress was hoping to replicate the success in Lok Sabha elections but was checkmated by a revitalised BJP driven by the Modi factor.

A good show in today's by-polls would be a booster for Siddaramaiah to consolidate his position in the party, where there are signs of discontent with the functioning of his government.

The by-elections are also a litmus test for BJP National Vice-President B S Yeddyurappa, whose son B Y Raghavendra has been fielded from Shikaripura, his stronghold which he had won seven times.

The seat fell vacant following Yeddyurappa's election to Lok Sabha from Shimoga, which Raghavendra earlier represented.

In Bellary Rural, a complaint was filed with police by some Congress workers against BJP Lok Sabha member B Sriramulu and two others for allegedly posing "threat to life", police said. Sriramulu's election as Lok Sabha member caused the by-election from this constituency.

The by-poll to Chikkodi-Sadalga was caused due to the election of Prakash Hukkeri to Lok Sabha from Chikkodi.

Congress went all out not only to retain Chikkodi-Sadalga but also wrest from BJP, Bellary Rural and Shikaripura.

JDS, dogged by rumblings of discontent within over the leadership of its supremo Deve Gowda and his son and former Chief Minster H D Kumaraswamy, has not fielded any candidates.

Twenty two candidates were in the fray. Counting of votes will take place on August 25.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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