By-elections: Low turnout in Rampur, moderate to high in other constituencies

Main rivals BJP and Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh accused each other of rigging and complained to Chief Electoral Officer Ajay Kumar Shukla.

New Delhi: Moderate to high turnout was recorded on Monday in by-elections to the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat and five assembly seats in as many states, while only around 34 per cent of electors cast their votes in Rampur assembly constituency in Uttar Pradesh.

Mainpuri parliamentary constituency in UP, which fell vacant after the death of Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, registered 54.37 turnout while Khatauli Assembly segment in Muzaffarnagar recorded 56.46 polling, district officials said.

Main rivals BJP and Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh accused each other of rigging and complained to Chief Electoral Officer Ajay Kumar Shukla.

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The turnout was 76 per cent in Padampur in Odisha, nearly 70 per cent in Sardarshahar in Rajasthan, 64.86 per cent in Bhanupratappur in Chhattisgarh and around 58 per cent in Kurhani in Bihar and, with no major untoward incident reported.

The figures are likely to be updated later by election officials after the compilation of data.

While two Assembly seats were held by the Congress, one each was with the BJP, BJD, RJD and SP.

The bypolls in Rampur Sadar and Khatauli were necessitated after SP MLA Azam Khan and BJP MLA Vikram Singh Saini were disqualified following their conviction in separate cases.

At a press conference in Saifai, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav accused the BJP government of misusing the official machinery. He alleged that the Rampur administration and the police were not allowing people to come out and vote.

A BJP delegation led by the party’s State General Secretary J P S Rathore complained to the Chief Electoral Officer against the Samajwadi Party.

“The issues on which the party is registering its complaints are all false… Po-BJP workers are being intimidated by Samajwadi Party’s anarchists in Mainpuri Lok Sabha constituency,” the BJP alleged.

Following its defeat in Azamgarh and the Rampur Lok Sabha by-election, considered key Samajwadi party bastions, the latest by-elections are crucial for the Akhilesh Yadav-led party.

In Mainpuri, Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple Yadav is pitted against BJP’s Raghuraj Singh Shakya, once a close associate of Shivpal Singh Yadav. It had recorded a turnout of 56.61 per cent in the 2019 polls.

In the Rampur Sadar Assembly segment, the BJP has fielded Akash Saxena, the son of former party legislator Shiv Bahadur Saxena, against Azam Khan’s protege Asim Raja. It had recorded 56.61 per cent polling in Assembly election early this year, but on Monday the figure was 33.94 per cent.

The by-election to Rampur Lok Sabha seat, which the SP lost to the BJP in June, had seen only 41 per cent voting.

In Khatauli, the main fight is between Vikram Singh Saini’s wife Rajkumari Saini and Madan Bhaiya of the Rashtriya Lok Dal. It has seen a turnout of 69.79 per cent in the last assembly polls.

A voter turnout of 64.86 per cent was recorded in Bhanupratappurin Chhattisgarh’s Maoist-hit Kanker district, where polling began at 7 am amid tight security and concluded at 3 pm on Monday.

The polling process was by and large peaceful, an official said.

Seven candidates contested in the constituency, reserved for the Scheduled Tribes, though it was largely seen as a direct contest between the ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

BJP candidate Brahmanand Netam and Congress nominee Savitri Mandavi cast their votes in Kaswahi and Telgara polling booths respectively.

The by-election was necessitated due to the death of Congress MLA and state Assembly’s Deputy Speaker Manoj Singh Mandavi after a heart attack on October 16. The Congress fielded his wife in the by-election.

According to an official, 69.91 percent voting was recorded by 5.30 pm at Sardarshahar seat in Rajasthan’s Churu district.

A total of 2,89,843 voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in the byelection necessitated following the demise of Congress MLA Bhanwar Lal Sharma on October 9.

The Congress has fielded Sharma’s son Anil Kumar, while the BJP has nominated former MLA Ashok Kumar.

Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan are due next year.

Nearly 76 per cent of 2.57 lakh voters exercised their franchise in Odisha’s Padampur assembly constituency, an Election Commission official said.

The voting, which began at 7 am, continued beyond the scheduled close at 4 pm as several people were in the queue in 89 of the 319 polling stations, he said.

The boundary gates of all the booths, however, were closed at 4 pm, the official said.

“There was no report of any untoward incident in the entire Padampur assembly constituency during the voting process,” Odisha’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) S K Lohani said.

The ruling BJD fielded Barsha Singh Bariha, the daughter of Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha whose death necessitated the by-election, while the opposition BJP’s nominee is the former MLA and party’s Krushak Morcha president Pradip Purohit.

Congress candidate Satya Bhusan Sahu has earlier won the seat three times.

A total of 57.9 per cent of 3.11 lakh voters exercised their franchise in the by-election to Kurhani assembly seat in Bihar on Monday, officials said.

Polling began at 7 am across 320 booths in the constituency and continued till 6 pm, they said. Tight security arrangements were in place across all the booths, manned by central paramilitary forces besides the local police.

By-poll to the assembly segment in Muzaffarpur district has been necessitated due to the disqualification of RJD MLA Anil Kumar Sahani.

The success of JD(U) candidate Manoj Singh Kushwaha, a former MLA, will cement Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s position, while a loss may embolden his detractors.

The BJP has fielded Kedar Gupta who had lost to Sahani in the 2020 assembly polls by a slender margin of about 700 votes. The RJD is backing the JD(U) in this by-election.

The outcomes of the bypolls will not have any impact on the central or the state governments as ruling parties enjoy comfortable majority at both levels.

The counting of votes for the single parliamentary and six assembly seats will be held on December 8, coinciding with the ballot count for Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections.

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