Assembly bypolls held in seven States; violence in Bengal, Uttarakhand

Four injured in clash between party workers in Uttarakhand’s Manglaur; BJP candidates in West Bengal’s Bagdah, Ranaghat Dakshin claim they were prevented from visiting some polling booths

Updated - July 11, 2024 12:16 am IST

Published - July 10, 2024 08:36 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Voters wait in a long queue to cast their votes at a polling booth in Radhapuram in Vikravandi Assembly constituency on July 10, 2024.

Voters wait in a long queue to cast their votes at a polling booth in Radhapuram in Vikravandi Assembly constituency on July 10, 2024. | Photo Credit: SS Kumar

Amarwara in Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest voter turnout of 78% in the Assembly bypolls held in 13 constituencies across seven States on Wednesday. The lowest turnout of just 47% was seen in Badrinath in Uttarakhand. Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from Uttarakhand and West Bengal.

The Assembly bypolls are being held in Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, and Himachal Pradesh. Of the 13 seats which went to the polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and Trinamool Congress had each held two, while one seat each had been held by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Janata Dal (United), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Independents held the remaining three seats.

The bypolls are being keenly watched, especially in Himachal Pradesh, where polling took place in the three seats of Dehra, Hamirpur, and Nalagarh, vacated by Independent MLAs who joined the BJP. These constituencies recorded voter turnouts of 63.89%, 65.87%, and 75.22% respectively.

Minor clashes

Some violence was reported from Manglaur in Uttarakhand, where four people were injured in a clash between workers of different political parties at a polling booth. Congress leaders, including former Chief Minister Harish Rawat, Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Yashpal Arya, and Congress MP Imran Masood, condemned the violence. More than 67% of voters exercised their franchise in Manglaur, where a bypoll was necessitated by the death of sitting BSP MLA Sarwat Karim Ansari last October. The Badrinath seat fell vacant after sitting Congress MLA Rajendra Bhandari resigned and switched to the BJP in March.

In West Bengal, violence was reported from the Bagdah and Ranaghat Dakshin constituencies, which saw turnouts of 65.15% and 65.37% respectively. BJP candidates Manoj Kumar Biswas and Binay Kumar Biswas, from Ranaghat-Dakshin and Badgah respectively, claimed that they were not allowed to visit some polling booths. The Trinamool Congress denied the allegations and dubbed them as “baseless”. The other two West Bengal seats of Raiganj and Maniktala recorded voter turnouts of 67.12% and 51.39% respectively.

Switched loyalties

In Punjab, the bypoll for Jalandhar West saw 51.30% of the electorate casting their vote. The seat fell vacant after Sheetal Angural resigned as an AAP legislator and joined the BJP.

In Bihar, the Rupauli Assembly seat recorded a voter turnout of 51.14%. The bypoll was necessitated following the resignation of sitting MLA Bima Bharti, who has won the seat for the JD(U) several times in the past, but recently quit the party to contest the Lok Sabha election on a Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) ticket. Independent MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, announced “full support” to the RJD candidate Bima Bharti, whom he had defeated in the recent parliamentary poll.

Tamil Nadu’s Vikravandi Assembly constituency saw 77.73% turnout. The bypoll was necessitated by the demise of DMK legislator N. Pughazhendhi.

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