New Delhi, May 31: Counting of votes in the by-election to ten Assembly and four Lok Sabha seats would be held today as per schedule, despite re-polling in several booths in Kairana and Bhandara-Gondia. These by-polls hold extreme significance for the BJP as it held three of the four Lok Sabha seats: Kairana, Palghar and Bhandara-Gondia. The fourth one, Nagaland, was held by its ally People’s Democratic Alliance. Also Read - Remarks against EC: Retrograde to Restrain HCs From Making Observations or Gag Media From Reporting Observations, Says SC
Winning Kairana by-election is a matter of prestige for the BJP which suffered a humiliating defeat in the March by-poll to Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats. The two seats fell vacant when their MPs, Yogi Adityanath and Keshav Prasad Maurya respectively, resigned after joining the legislative council. While the saffron party would want to show that it is still a formidable force in the state, this by-poll would also be a test of the unity of the Opposition which came together just to keep the BJP out, and managed to do so in Phulpur and Gorakhpur. Kairana seat was held by BJP MP Hukum Singh who died. Also Read - Treat It As a Bitter Pill In Right Way: Supreme Court To Election Commission Over Madras HC's Murder Charges' Remarks
The two LS seats of Maharashtra, Palghar and Bhandara-Gondia, are important for all four major political parties in the state: BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP. Palghar went to polls due to the death of BJP MP Chintaman Wanga. However, just before nominations were to be filed, there was movement across parties; Chintaman’s son Shriniwas crossed over to BJP rival Shiv Sena while BJP picked Congress defector Rajendra Gavit. The Congress and the NCP are anyway in a pre-poll alliance, so the contest here was triangular with the Shiv Sena forming the third side. It will most likely take away some of BJP’s votes. The Bhandara-Gondia seat fell vacant when BJP MP Nana Patole joined the Congress. Here BJP has a straight fight with the NCP but seems to have an edge. Also Read - Prohibit Victory Celebrations Urgently: EC Asks States As Party Workers Celebrate Poll Results
By-election was necessitated in the lone Nagaland seat after sitting MP Neiphiu Rio went on to become the Chief Minister. Here, BJP is a part of the ruling PDA. Assembly by-polls were held in Palus Kadegaon constituency (Maharashtra), Noorpur (Uttar Pradesh), Jokihat (Bihar), Gomia and Silli (Jharkhand), Chengannur (Kerala), Ampati (Meghalaya), Shahkot (Punjab), Tharali (Uttarakhand) and Maheshtala (West Bengal).
Voting was held on May 28, amid reports of malfunctioning of EVM-VVPATs. The Election Commission (EC) ordered re-polling at 49 booths in Bhandara-Gondia and 73 booths of Kairana even as it insisted that reports of large-scale failure of EVMs were an “exaggerated projection of reality”. Former Union minister Praful Patel claimed that almost 25 percent of EVMs malfunctioned in Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha seat, while Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said those in power were contesting elections while keeping the “key and remote of EVMs in their hands”. Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena slammed the EC, calling it a ‘tawaif’ (mistress) of a political party. Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut’s comment comes after his party chief Uddhav Thackeray released a video of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis asking BJP workers to use all possible means to win the Palghar Lok Sabha seat.
(With Agency Inputs)