The Election Commission of India (ECI) Saturday announced holding bypolls on September 30 in one assembly constituency of Odisha and three of West Bengal, including the Bhawanipur seat, from where chief minister Mamata Banerjee is slated to contest.
The EC has not announced dates for by-polls in other 31 Assembly Constituencies including four in West Bengal) and three Parliamentary constituencies across India lying vacant due to death and resignation of winners.
According to an Election Commission press note, the West Bengal chief secretary has informed that in view of administrative exigencies and public interest and to avoid a vacuum in the state, bye-elections for Bhabanipur, from where CM Mamata Banerjee intends to contest elections, may be conducted.
"While the commission has decided not to hold bye-elections in other 31 Assembly Constituencies and three Parliamentary constituencies (across India), considering the constitutional exigency and special request from state of West Bengal, it has decided to hold bye-election in 159-Bhabanipur AC," it said.
Banerjee lost the Assembly election from the Nandigram constituency, about 170 km from her home, while her party won 213 seats banking on her name. She had to be elected by November 5 to continue as the chief minister.
Apart from Bhawanipur, elections will be held at West Bengal's Jangipur and Samserganj , where polling did not take place due to the death of candidates at the campaign stage., and Pipli in Odisha.
The results will be announced on October 3.
Bhawanipur is Banerjee's own backyard. She lives there and represented Bhawanipur in 2011 and 2016. This time, she changed her seat to take on party rebel Suvendu Adhikary, contesting against the latter on his home turf. She lost by a slender margin and the party has challenged the Nandigram result in Calcutta high court.
Senior TMC leader Sobhandeb Chatterjee won from Bhawanipur but later resigned to make way for the chief minister to contest the by-poll.
Chatterjee, also a minister, is slated to contest from Khardah, where the TMC's winning candidate died of Covid-19 even before the results were announced. But bye-election dates for Khardah and three other seats have not been announced. The TMC's Gosaba MLA Jayanta Naskar died of Covid-19 after being elected, requiring by-poll there, too.
The state's ruling party, the Trinamool Congress, had been mounting pressure on the ECI over the past couple of months, demanding that dates for byelection be announced, claiming that the state's pandemic situation had come under control.
Other seats requiring bye-elections include Santipur and Dinhata, which sitting BJP MPs Jagannath Sarkar and Nishith Pramanik won but resigned to retain their Lok Sabha membership. These seats are lying vacant since even before Bhawanipur.
According to political observers, the TMC looks favourite in all three seats.
Of the four others where by-polls have not been announced, the BJP was considered a favourite in only one, Santipur.
(WIth PTI inputs)