By Harihar Swarup
The upcoming by-elections assume special significance given the record number of 51 seats assembly seats across 16 states and one union territory going to polls around the same time.
In Uttar Pradesh, chief minister, Yogi Adityanath-led BJP is aiming to snatch Rampur and Jalalpur from Samajwadi party and BSP respectively. Out of the 11 seats in the state, whereby polls are to be held, the BJP has allotted one seat to its ally Apna Dal.
The BJP faces the toughest battle in Rampur; the bastion of SP leader Mohd Azam Khan who is being prosecuted by the UP police on several counts. The SP has fielded Khan’s wife and Rajya Sabha member Tazeem Fatma, who has been booked along with Khan in a battery of cases.
In Bihar, the JD(U) is set to contest four out of five seats which were earlier retained by the party , and the BJP will contest, Kishenganj. If Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) loses any of the four seats, it had won in 2015,the Chief Kumar would be pushed further by its ally BJP. The Opposition – RJD and Congress – have come together to contest by-polls.
In Gujarat, the Congress is striving to retain two seats it had won in 2015, among the six seats where the by-polls will be held. Both the winning MLAs, Alpesh Thakur and Dhwal Sinh Zala, have crossed over to the BJP and are BJP candidates from Radhanpur and Bayad. The Congress is expected to face an uphill task as it seeks to reverse the losing trend and win seats despite MLAs shifting sides.
In Assam, out of four seats for which by-polls will be held, the BJP had won three seats and the Congress had won one. It will be the first big test for the BJP after the release of the final list of the National Register of Citizens, as the Congress will try to cash in on the resentment over the NRC. If the BJP maintains its winning performance, it would be a big boost to the government.
The Congress hopes to do well in the by-polls in five seats in Kerala, where it performed well in the Lok Sabha elections. But the party is cautious after losing recent by-election of Pala. The BJP has high hopes for Manjeshwar seat, which it had lost to the India Union Muslim League by 89 votes in 2016.
In Punjab, Chief Minister Amrinder Singh would try to cement his position in the party with victory in the by-polls in four constituencies. In 2017, the Congress had won only one out of four — Mukerian, while one BJP, AAP and the Akali Dal won each.
In Rajasthan, if the Congress manages to win even one seat out of Mandawa and Khinwsar where by-elections are being held, it would strengthen the government and the ruling party which currently has 106 MLAs. Jhabua, the sole seat for by-poll is being held in Madhya Pradesh, is also crucial for the Congress to win as it could make it reach the 115 mark in the 230-member assembly.
Besides, by-elections will be held for three seats in Sikkim, two in Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh and one seat each in Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Telangana, Puducherry, and Chhattisgarh. (IPA Service)