<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>By-elections being held in Assam, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have assumed significance as the first major ground test for the ruling BJP after demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Voting is underway for bypolls in eight assembly and four Lok Sabha constituencies. According to officials, elaborate arrangements have been made for the smooth conduct of the pollsAssamBypolls in Lakhimpur Lok Sabha constituency and Baithalanso assembly constituency in Assam will decide the electoral fate of eight contestants. An estimated 16,91,313 voters, including 8,21,199 women, are expected to cast their franchise in two seats.In Lakhimpur, the five candidates included Amiya Kumar Handique (CPI-M), Pradan Baruah (BJP), Dr Hema Hari Prasanna Pegu (Cong), Hem Kanta Miri (SUCI-Communist) and Dilip Moran (Independent). 15,11,110 voters are expected to exercise their franchise in 1954 polling stations spread across the Assembly constituencies of Majuli (ST), Naoboicha, Lakhimpur, Dhakuakhana (ST), Dhemaji (ST), Jonai (ST), Chabua, Doomdooma and Sadiya.In Baithalanso (ST) – 20 three contestants are in fray including Dr Mansing Rongpi (BJP), Ruponsing Ronghang (Cong) and Rajen Timung (Independent), the Election office said. Boithalangso (ST) Assembly constituency, in West Karbi Anglong district, comprised 1,80,203 voters, including 86819 women and 246 polling stations. Lakhimpur had earlier been represented by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal who was fielded as an MLA from Majuli in May last and winning. Boithalangso had fallen vacant with the resignation of Mansing Rongpi from Congress who joined the BJP on July 12 last. Polling will be held from 7 am to 4 pm and the election shall be completed before November 24, according to the Election Commission of India notification of October 26 last. West BengalBy-elections are underway in Cooch Behar and Tamluk Lok Sabha constituencies and in Monteswar Assembly constituency. Ruling Trinamool Congress, BJP, Left Front and Congress have fielded their candidates in all three seats. Although the Congress and CPI(M)-led Left Front had contested the Assembly polls held earlier this year, the two decided to part company in this round of by-elections.Demonetization became a key issue in the last lap of campaign for the by-polls. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did not campaign for the by-polls and left it to the other leaders of her party. Apart from state BJP president Dilip Ghosh, Union minister Babul Supriyo canvassed for his party. WBPCC chief Adhir Chowdhury and CPIM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra spearheaded campaign for their party candidates. TMC MLA and party candidate from Tamluk seat Dibyendu Adhikari told PTI, “Demonetization move has affected every citizen of this country. The common man is suffering.””Demonetization has also impacted our campaign as we are unable to pay the decorators, sound organisers. In Tamluk, most of the rural areas still don’t have proper banking facilities, what will the poor farmers do?” he asked.According CPI(M) and Congress leaders, demonetization has all of a sudden come up as an issue for the polls as they are receiving feedback that people are inconvenienced due to the new decision. CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said demonetization became a prominent issue as the people faced huge problems and added that the situation was much worse in rural areas.The BJP, on the other hand, said that by-elections would be a litmus test for political parties. “What TMC, Congress and CPI(M) are saying is not right. People of Bengal are happy with the decision and will give a hands down victory to our candidates,” state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said.”It’s not a question of black money or white money. All of a sudden if you scrap high value notes how will you meet various expenditures for the campaign,” Congress candidate from Monteswar Bulbul Ahmed Sheikh said.By-election in Cooch Behar was necessitated by the death of TMC MP Renuka Sinha while the by-election in Tamluk in East Medinipur district was caused by the resignation of TMC MP Suvendu Adhikari who also won the Assembly poll and joined the state cabinet as transport minister. The bypoll to Monteswar Assembly seat in Burdwan district is due to death of TMC MLA Sajal Panja.Madhya PradeshBy-elections are being held in Shahdol Lok Sabha constituency and Nepanagar assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh. “Total 17 candidates are in the fray for the Shahdol LS seat, while four are trying their luck for Nepanagar,” an election official said. Both the seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) category.Thirty companies (15 each) of armed police forces have been deployed in the two constituencies to provide security during the polling. “Over 4,000 EVMs will be used to seal the fate of the candidates. The EVMs also carry the photographs of the candidates to facilitate the voters,” the official said. In Shahdol, total 16,00,787 voters, whereas in Nepanagar, 2,30,420 people can exercise their franchise.While Congress has fielded Himadri Singh, daughter of former union minister Dalbir Singh and ex-MP Rajesh Nandini Singh, from Shahdol Lok Sabha seat, the BJP has given ticket to tribal leader Gyan Singh, a senior minister in Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s cabinet from the reserved seat. The Shahdol bypoll was necessitated due to death of BJP MP Dalpat Singh Paraste. In 2014, Paraste had wrested the seat from Congress’s Rajesh Nandini Singh by a margin of over 2.14 lakh votes. The present BJP candidate Gyan Singh had earlier won the Shahdol seat twice in 1996 and 1998.In Nepanagar, Congress has reposed faith in tribal leader Antar Singh Barde, while BJP has fielded Manju Dadu, daughter of late MLA Rajendra Shyamlal Dadu, whose death caused by an accident, necessitated the by-poll to cash in on the sympathy vote. Besides these prominent names, several other candidates have also filed their nominations for the by-polls.Communist Party of India’s Parmeshwar Singh Porte, Lok Janshakti Party’s Krishna Pal Singh Pavel, Gondwana Gantantra Party’s Hirasingh Markm and Apna Dal’s Sajjan Singh Paraste, among others are in the fray for the Shahdol LS seat. Besides them, total nine persons are contesting as independent candidates in Shahdol.In Nepanagar, Republican Party of India (A) nominee Revanta and Lok Janshakti Party’ Ber Singh are also trying their luck. However, there is no independent candidate in the fray, the official said. The counting of votes will take place on November 22 and the entire poll process will be completed by November 24.Tamil NaduPolls for Thanjavur and Aravakkurichi and bypoll in Thirupparankundram and in Nellithope constituencies are being held on Saturday.In Aravakkurichi constituency, V Senthil Balaji (AIADMK) and KC Palanisamy (DMK) and in Thanjavur, Anjugham Boopathy (DMK) and M Rengasamy (AIADMK) are among the candidates. In Thirupparankundram, AIADMK has fielded A K Bose, while P Saravanan is the DMK nominee.Besides, the AIADMK and DMK candidates, PMK, BJP and DMDK and independents are also contesting the polls. PMK is not in the fray in Thirupparankundram as it did not get its mango symbol in that segment. The four-party combine, People’s Welfare Front, comprising MDMK, CPI(M), CPI and VCK, has boycotted the polls. In Nellithope assembly constituency, it will be a crucial test for Congress nominee and Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, a non- member of the house, at tomorrow’s bypoll tomorrow when he crosses swords with AIADMK candidate Om Sakthi Segar. Narayanasamy has the support of DMK and VCK while AINRC, whose founder N Narayanasamy is the leader of the opposition, is backing Segar. The bypoll is being held to fill vacancy caused by the resignation of Congress legislator A John Kumar on September 15 to facilitate Narayanasamy, a non-member of the house, to contest the poll and get elected to the assembly to fulfill the constitutional obligation. Narayanasamy became Chief Minister on June 6 and formed a six member ministry under his leadership with the support of DMK (having two members) from outside. The strength of Congress in the 30 member assembly was 15 before John Kumar quit the post of MLA.
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