The stakes are high in October 30 bypolls – 32 seats in 14 states in the fray

Let’s see what is at stake for parties contesting the bypolls across 14 states today

Twenty-nine assembly seats, three Lok sabha seats across 14 states and a union territory are currently going through the bypoll battle. Though bypoll has never followed or reflected the major national political trend, this time with five state polls due in less than three months, certain trends might make a difference.

National trends in bypolls

As BJP and Modi are halfway through their second term, the bypolls near the central capital might have slight spillover effects. The central policies and national events are said to affect bypolls in Himachal Pradesh and Harayana.

In four states, the battle is directly between Congress and BJP. Those polls might be affected by the national policies. Here is the list of a few national policies that can impact the polls:

— The ruling party of the country is facing the heat of rising fuel prices, unemployment and violence against Muslims in Tripura. Coupled with this, the growing central resistance to farmers’ protest will impact the polls

— The factors contributing to the growing polarization like over-analysis of Pakistan policies, attack on Hindus in Bangladesh will have an impact.

— A twist in the opposition allies like TMC, AAP, RJD along with other allies breaking away from Congress. The internal fraction between G-23 leaders.

The Congress-BJP fight

The direct fight between Cong and BJP is underway in at least four to five state bypolls.

  • Madhya Pradesh: Three assembly seats – Prithvipur, Raigaon and Jobat – and the Khandwa parliamentary seat will contest in the bypoll due to the death of respective MLAs. As seen earlier, the ruling party in BJP will have the vote-maths in their favour. The win would also cement CM Chouhan’s position. The death of two Congress MLAs had resulted in the bypoll. Therefore, it is a chance for Congress to save the sinking ship.
  • Assam: Bypolls are held in five Assam assembly seats – Gossaigaon, Tamulpur, Bhabanipur, Mariani and Thowra. The elections are ongoing as three Congress and AIDUF MLAs have defected to BJP, and two MLAs have died. Congress should win back the defective seats to avoid BJP strengthening its position. It would reduce their dependency on allies. Currently, BJP has 59 seats in the 126 members assembly house.
  • Himachal Pradesh: The Mandi parliamentary bypoll has the most tricky situation. The wife of the former Congress chief minister, Virbhadra Singh, is up against BJP’s Kargil veteran, Brigadier (Retd) Khushal Singh Thakur in Mandi, which also happens to be CM Jai Ram Thakur’s home district. It is a matter of prestige for the CM. Three other assembly seats, mainly Fatehpur, will see an interesting Cong-BJP fight.
  • Rajasthan: It is a litmus test for CM Gehlot after facing an internal revolt from Sachin Pilot. Bypolls in Vallabhnagar and Dhariawad is conducted due to the demise of the respective MLAs. BJP needs to win the bypolls to boost their image as state assembly polls draw closer.

Allies Vs Congress Vs BJP

In a few states, the presence of allies has complicated the battle for Congress. Most of these allies are ruling parties of the states. The list of states embroiled in tripartite fights are:

  • Maharashtra:  The battle is between Shiv Sena and BJP. But being a junior ally partner of Shiv Sena, the win will boost Congress campaign in the upcoming polls as the death of Congress MLA has called for bypolls. Interestingly, BJP has filed an ex-Sena legislator as their candidate in Deglur.
  • Karnataka: The bypolls are the first-ever elections under the leadership of Bommai for BJP in the state. Basavaraj Bommai took over the reins from the poll-veteran BS Yeddyurappa. The situation is intense as Hangal lies in Bommai’s home district. Also, this bypoll is predicted to set the mood for the 2023 state elections. Therefore all parties, including JD (U), and Congress have campaigned extensively in the region.
  • Mizoram:  The bypoll in the Tuirial seat in Mizoram is a multi-faceted battle. The fight is between three parties – Congress, Mizo National Front and Zoram People’s Movement. Alongside, BJP has also field Chalrosanga Ralte.
  • Meghalaya:  Bye elections are currently undergoing in three seats — Mawryngkneng, Mawphlang, and Rajabala. The fight is between the ruling coalition, and Congress is planning to gain something in the process. Congress candidate Cornelius Khyriem in Mawphlang is fighting against National People’s Party’s Lamphrang Blah and United Democratic Party’s footballer candidate, Eugeneson Lyngdoh. United Democratic Party is also in the government. The ruling dispensation is fighting separately in the other two seats. BJP, part of the ruling coalition, has nominated Kingstone Marak from Rajabala.
  • Dadra and Nagar Haveli:  The allies of Maharashtra have nominated candidates against each other. The BJP has also filed a candidate to gain from the fight.

The Regional Parties

The fight is not between allies and Congress or Congress and BJP or allies and Congress and BJP. In some states, the contest is between the regional parties too.

  • Andhra Pradesh: The bye-election in the Badval seat of Andhra Pradesh is due to the sudden death of sitting YSR’s MLA Gunthoti Venkata. In turn, the YSR Congress has fielded his wife, Dasari Sudha as their candidate. Interestingly, the rival TDP has decided to withdraw their candidate, thus making the battle easy for YSR Congress.
  • Nagaland: The bypoll in Nagaland will go uncontested as S Keoshu Yimchunger was the only candidate to file the nomination. Yimchunger is the consensus candidate of the ruling alliance, Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), for the Shamtorr-Chessore assembly seat.
  • Bihar: Bihar will witness a bypoll in two seats as they fell vacant after the death of the MLAs. The seats were formerly held by JD (U). Therefore, Nitish Kumar would want his party to retain the power to counter the rising popularity of BJP in the state. However, the bypoll has led to a crack between the opposition, RJD and Congress. They have filed individual candidates. For the ruling alliance, a loss will highlight adversaries between JD(U) and BJP.
  • Telangana:  Huzurabad bye-election was necessitated after the sitting TRS MLA resigned from both the party and the seat over differences with Telangana CM. The sitting MLA was former health minister Eatala Rajender. The prominent candidates in the fray are – BJP’s Eatala Rajender, TRS’s Gellu Srinivas Yadav, and Congress’ Venkat Balmoori.
  • Haryana:  The fight is between the former deputy Prime Minister late Devi Lal’s son Om Prakash Chautala, his younger son Abhay Singh Chautala on one side and Prakash’s elder son Ajay Chautala and his son Dushyant Chautala on the other. Ajay and Dushyant Chautala are campaigning for BJP-JJP candidate Govind Kanda. Meanwhile, his father Om Prakash and younger brother Abhay Chautala is campaigning for INLD. The farmer agitation will affect the election.
  • West Bengal:  The bypolls in four constituencies is under process as the seats fell vacant after the death of sitting MLAs in two constituencies and BJP MLA’s choosing their MP seat after winning the polls. The primary battle is currently undergoing between TMC and BJP. Of four seats, TMC had won two seats and will try to retain them. BJP will also like to retain their seats as the party is battling the growing numbers of defectors after the state polls.

The results will be declared on November 2, according to the Election Commission.

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