In contests symbolic of the fierce turf war between the BJP and regional parties, seven assembly constituencies in six states will elect new legislators in bypolls on Thursday, with Telangana and Bihar hosting two of the more closely watched clashes.
Telangana has been primed for a high-stakes battle between the BJP and Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s party TRS following allegations by the latter of attempts to poach its MLAs with eye-popping amounts of cash.
The bypoll in Telangana’s Manugoda was called after the Congress MLA resigned and joined the BJP. The contest is largely between RK Rajagopal Reddy of the BJP, former MLA Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy of the TRS and Congress’s Palvai Sravanthi.
The TRS, recently renamed Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS), aims to demonstrate its dominance in state politics and go national with a big win. A loss would dampen not only its plans, but also embolden the opposition ahead of the assembly polls.
Bihar will see the first electoral test for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s latest “Grand Alliance”, formed less than three months ago after his party ditched the BJP and partnered with Tejashwi Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress. Bypolls in the state are being held in Mokama and Gopalganj, earlier held by the RJD and the BJP respectively.
In Haryana’s Adampur, former Chief Minister Bhajan Lal’s family will be trying to hold on to its bastion of five decades after his younger son Kuldeep Bishnoi resigned as MLA from the seat and switched from the Congress to the BJP in August. Bishnoi’s son Bhavya is now contesting as a candidate for the ruling BJP against former Union Minister Jai Prakash, a three-time MP and two-time MLA, of the Congress.
In a prestige battle, the BJP will hope to retain the Gola Gorakhnath seat in Uttar Pradesh, which fell vacant after the death of MLA Arvind Giri. With Mayawati’s party BSP and the Congress staying out of the contest, the fight will be between the BJP and Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party.
The BJP will also hope to retain Dhamnagar in Odisha, where the death of the party’s MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi necessitated the by-poll. The son of the former MLA is running for the party against Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal which has strengthened its hold on the region since the last elections.
In Maharashtra, the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena is expected to comfortably win the Andheri East Assembly constituency in Mumbai after the BJP pulled out of the contest, which is the first after the party’s recent split.
While these by-elections are not expected to have any bearing on who governs the states, most parties have gone all-in on the campaigning to avoid a defeat in the prestige battles. The results of the elections are set to be announced on Sunday.
With inputs from NDTV