New Delhi, April 9
Massive violence and a very poor turnout marred the Srinagar Lok Sabha by-poll on Sunday, while by-elections for 10 assembly constituencies across eight states, including in the national capital, saw average to enthusiastic polling.
The assembly constituencies where by-polls were held on Sunday are Rajouri Garden in Delhi, Littipara in Jharkhand, Nanjangud and Gundlupet in Karnataka, Dholpur in Rajasthan, Kanthi Dakshin in West Bengal, Ater and Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh, Bhoranj in Himachal Pradesh and Dhemaji in Assam.
Counting for the Lok Sabha seat will be held on April 15, and for the assembly seats on April 13.
In Kashmir, eight civilians were killed and scores injured in clashes with security forces as mobs tried to attack polling stations in the Srinagar parliamentary constituency that recorded a poor seven per cent voting — the lowest in the state in three decades.
The violence in the Lok Sabha constituency — spread across the districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal — left seven persons dead in three places in Budgam and one in Ganderbal. Opposition National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s Nazir Ahmed Khan are the main contestants. The seat fell vacant after then PDP leader Tariq Hameed Karra resigned to protest alleged atrocities on people during the 2016 agitation.
Karnataka’s Gundlupet saw a record 80 per cent turnout while 76 per cent was registered in Nanjangud (reserved) assembly constituency.
In the April 2013 assembly elections, polling percentatge in Gundlupet was also a record 87.05 and in Nanjungud, it was 77.59.
Barring stray incidents like voting being held up due to EVM glitches and poll boycott in a village in the Nanjangud segment, the bye-polls were peaceful in both the segments.
The by-poll for Nanjangud (Scheduled Caste) in Myusuru district was necessitated by the resignation of former Congress lawmaker and Revenue Minister Srinviasa Prasad, who is re-contesting on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket.
The ruling Congress has fielded K. Keshavamurthy.
The bye-poll for Gundlupet in adjacent Chamarajanagar district was caused due to the death of Congress lawmaker and Cooperation Minister H.S. Mahadeva Prasad on January 2.
The ruling party has fielded his widow Geetha against C.S. Niranjan Kumar of the opposition BJP.
Delhi’s Rajouri Garden assembly by-poll saw disinterested voting, registering just 47 per cent.
In the 2015 assembly elections, when the Aam Aadmi Party swept to power, the constituency had witnessed 72 per cent.
Aam Aadmi Party’s Harjeet Singh, Congress’ Meenakshi Chandela and BJP-SAD’s Manjinder Singh Sirsa are in the fray from the seat. The seat fell vacant as AAP’s Jarnail Singh resigned to contest the Punjab assembly polls.
Jharkhand’s Littipara bypoll saw 72.15 per cent voting. Ten candidates were in the fray for the seat, the contest for which was a prestige issue for both the ruling BJP and opposition Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).
The seat fell vacant after JMM legislator Anil Murmu died in January following a heart attack.
Around 82 per cent voting was seen in West Bengal’s Kanthi Dakshin assembly by-poll.
The ruling Trinamool Congress nominated former Minister of State for Health Chandrima Bhattacharya as its candidate for the constituency in East Midnapore district. The seat had fallen vacant after the party’s sitting legislator Dibyendu Adhikari was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Tamluk seat in a by-poll last year.
In Himachal Pradesh, bypoll for the Bhoranj seat saw over 63 percent voting.
The Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines were used in the state for the first time. There were technical snags at a few places but the machines were subsequently replaced, an official said.
The main contest was between the ruling Congress and the BJP.
The by-poll was necessitated following the death of two-time former cabinet minister I.D. Dhiman, who had won six consecutive elections from this constituency.
His son Anil Dhiman, a physician by profession, was in the fray from the BJP. He was pitted against Promila Devi of the Congress.
Assam’s Dhemaji constituency saw 66.97 per cent voting.
The by-election was necessitated as BJP lawmaker Pradan Baruah contested and won the byelection to the Lok Sabha from the Lakhimpur constituency. Sarbananda Sonowal vacated the seat after winning from the Majuli assembly constituency on becoming the Chief Minister.
VVPAT machines were used in polls for the first time in the state.
Amid reports of violence and allegations of booth capturing, over 60 per cent ballotting was recorded in bypolls for Ater in Bhind district and 65 per cent in Bandhavgarh in Umaria district.
Several incidents of violence, including clashes between the Congress and BJP activists, were reported from Ater.
There were also instances of stone pelting and reports of alleged firing in Ater. Congress candidate Hemant Katare accused the BJP of attacking his car and of booth capturing.
State Congress chief Arun Yadav accused the BJP and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of using the state machinery to influence the voting.
The Ater assembly seat fell vacant following the death of sitting legislator Satyadev Katare of the Congress, while the by-poll in Bandhavgarh was necessitated after its lawmaker Gyan Singh was elected to the Lok Sabha in November by-election last year.