ecently, four Lok Sabha seats where by-polls were held include Kairana in Uttar Pradesh, Bhandara-Gondiya and Palghar in Maharashtra and the lone seat for the lower house of Parliament in Nagaland. All four were held by the BJP, which is desperate to win as the party’s strength in the Lok Sabha has already slipped to 272 from 282, since it has been losing most of the by-elections in the last four years. In the last by-poll held in UP for two seats, the BJP lost both.
In Maharashtra, the by-polls to the Bhandara-Gondia and Palghar Lok Sabha seats witnessed a fight mainly between the alliance partners, the BJP and Shiv Sena. Still, all four major parties in the state – Congress, BJP, Shiv Sena and the NCP have pulled out all stops for the by-polls as the outcome is likely to have a bearing on their future course. The Palghar Lok Sabha by-poll is being held because of the death of sitting BJP MP Chintaman Wanga. Rajendra Gavit is the former Congress leader who has joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Just because he joined BJP, his name has been recommended for the seat of Palghar Lok Sabha by-poll on BJP ticket. Two sons of Chintaman Wanga joined Shiv Sena because their father was not paid due respect after his death. Shrinivas Wanga and Praful Wanga along with their mother Jayashree joined the Sena. Chintaman Wanga was elected from Palghar on a BJP ticket in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Wanga had passed away on January 30 earlier this year. Following his death, the Election Commission had announced by-poll for Lok Sabha constituency of Palghar. The chances of Sena winning are huge, due to sympathy vote factor. Though there are seven candidates, the main fight is between Wanga and Gavit.
In Bhandara-Gondia, the Lok Sabha by-poll was held because Nana Patole quit as the BJP MP and resigned from the party to return to the Congress earlier this year. This time around, Patole is not contesting the election, but he is campaigning actively for the NCP-Congress opposition combine candidate Madhukar Kukde, who had a face-off against BJP’s Hemant Patle. Here, Congress NCP has its grip on booth level, the chances of BJP’s losing is high.
The Kairana Lok Sabha seat is the next big test for the BJP versus a unified opposition. A by-poll was held here because of the death of sitting BJP MP Hukum Singh. The saffron party has fielded Singh’s daughter Mriganka Singh. She faces the Rashtriya Lok Dal’s (RLD) Tabassum Hasan, who is supported by the Congress, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The chances of her winning are strong. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Adityanath, signed from the party loss in his erstwhile Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency a few months ago, will be looking to avenge the defeat. On the other hand, the joint opposition – which won not just the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat, but also the Phulpur one in by-polls some months ago – will be tested for its viability among voters, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year.
In Nagaland, a Lok Sabha by-poll was necessitated following the resignation of Neiphiu Rio from the Lok Sabha to contest the Nagaland Assembly election in February. Rio is presently the chief minister of the state. The ruling People’s Democratic Alliance in Nagaland has decided to field former minister Tokheho Yepthomi as its candidate. Yepthomi will go head-to-head with the opposition Naga People’s Front nominee C Apok Jamir.
Assembly by-polls, including one Assembly seat election – was held in Chengannur in Kerala, Noorpur in Uttar Pradesh, Rajarajeshwari Nagar, or RR Nagar in Karnataka, Ampati in Meghalaya, Sillia, and Gomia in Jharkhand, Jokihat in Bihar, Maheshtala in West Bengal, Sahkot in Punjab and Tharali in Uttarakhand. In Karnataka, the contest was among the BJP, the Congress and the JD(S). We all know the results, Congress and JD(S) made it to power and BJP lost on humiliating notes.
In Bihar, the Jokihat Assembly seat will see an all-out contest between the JD(U) (part of the ruling coalition) and the RJD. In two Assembly by-polls held in March, both the BJP and RJD won a seat each. In a Lok Sabha by-poll at the same time, in Araria, the RJD won what was a BJP seat. Those March contests were the first ones in the state since the break-up of the ‘mahagathbandhan’, following which the JD(U) went back into the BJP-led NDA fold. The BJP, which is trying to emerge as the main challenger to the TMC – especially after it’s good performance in rural polls – has nominated Sujit Ghosh, a former joint director of the CBI. The TMC swept the Bengal rural polls earlier this month, but the BJP emerged as a surprise. A win for the BJP will see it cementing its position as the main opposition party in the state. The by-poll in Chengannur constituency of central Kerala was necessitated following the death in January of sitting MLA K K Ramachandran Nair of the CPM. The seat witnessed a tough triangular fight among the Left Democratic Front (LDF), the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the NDA in Kerala. It’s a rare contest in a state known for its decades-long bipolar politics. The result of the by-election is widely being seen as a referendum on the performance of both the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government in the state and the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, which has completed four years in office. Winning the seat is significant for the Congress also as it is an opportunity for them to wrest its traditional constituency back from arch-rival CPI(M) and to boost the confidence. But overall if you see the scenario right now doesn’t seem to be in favour of Modi or BJP.
Interesting to watch is, Palghar Lok Sabha constituency is one of the 48 Lok Sabha (lower house of Indian Parliament) constituencies of Maharashtra state. This constituency was created on February 19, 2008, as a part of the implementation of the Presidential notification based on the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission of India constituted on July 12, 2002. The seat is reserved for the Scheduled Tribes. It first held elections in 2009 and its first member of parliament (MP) was Baliram Sukur Jadhav of Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi. As of the 2014 election, Chintaman Wanga of the Bharatiya Janata Party represented this constituency in the Lok Sabha. After the sudden demise of Wanga, Bharatiya Janata Party gave the ticket to Rajendra Gavit and Sena issued ticket to Wanga’s son. The political pundits are predicting Shiv Sena’s win here.
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