Counting of votes would be held on Tuesday in assembly byelection to 58 seats in 11 states including Madhya Pradesh where the results would decide the fate of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.
The counting will begin at 8 am as per the Election Commission’s COVID-19 guidelines which restrict the number of people who can be present in the counting halls, officials said, adding extensive measures have been taken to ensure social distancing.
The stakes are high for both the BJP and the Congress in the byelections, considered a litmus test for the parties.
While the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party needs at least eight more MLAs for a simple majority in the MP Assembly, the Congress will be hoping to regain its turf as it had sitting MLAs in 27 seats out of 28 in the state where bypolls were held.
Overall, the Congress had sitting MLAs in 42 seats out of 58, while the BJP had seven.
The saffron party is fielding over 30 candidates who had won from the Congress ticket but switched sides and resigned, necessitating the bypolls.
In Uttar Pradesh, it will a test of popularity for the Yogi Adityanath government as the BJP, which has a comfortable majority in the assembly, is contesting on seven seats — six of which it had won in the last election while one was with the Samajwadi Party.
Counting of votes will be held in eight seats in Gujarat, four seats in Manipur and one seat in Haryana, all of which were with the Congress; one seat in Chhattisgarh which was with Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress; two seats in Jharkhand which were held by the Congress and its ally Jharkhand Mukti Morcha; two seats in Karnataka which were with Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular.
Also, votes will be counted in two seats in Nagaland held by Naga People’s Front and Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, one seat in Telangana, which had been won by Telangana Rashtra Samiti, and two seats in Odisha held by the Biju Janata Dal and the BJP.
Moderate to high turnout was recorded in the byelections held amid extensive precautionary measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Voting in all the seats took place on November 3 except in Manipur, where it was held on November 7.
Besides, counting of votes will be held in Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat bypolls in Bihar, where the assemmbly election results will also be out on Tuesday.
The byelection had been necessitated due to the death of Janata Dal-United MP Baidyanath Mahto.
The counting will be held in 19 districts.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a total of 70.27 per cent voter turnout was recorded during the bypolls which were contested by 355 candidates, including 12 ministers.
The BJP with 107 MLAs in MP assembly with an effective strength of 229 needs eight more MLAs for a simple majority.
The Congress has 87 legislators in the House.
It will be also a test of the Jyotiraditya Scindia factor as the scion of the erstwhile royal family of Gwalior had quit the Congress with his loyalist MLAs, who are now fighting on BJP tickets.
The result is also crucial for former chief minister Kamal Nath, who lost power in the state seven months ago after the revolt by Scindia.
As many as 88 candidates are contesting in Naugaon Sadat, Tundla, Bangarmau, Bulandshahr, Deoria, Ghatampur and Malhani seats in UP.
Barring Malhani, which was with the SP, the other seats were in the ruling BJP’s kitty.
On the eve of counting, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav alleged that the BJP was involved in ‘rigging’.
Naugaon Sadat seat fell vacant after the death of state Cabinet minister and former cricketer Chetan Chauhan.
Ghatampur bypolls in Kanpur Nagar district was necessitated due to the death of state minister Kamal Rani Varun.
Both ministers had died of COVID-19.
Tundla seat fell vacant after its MLA S P Singh Baghel was elected to Lok Sabha, while the Bangarmau seat in Unnao fell vacant after the conviction of BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in a rape case.
The BJP had dumped Sengar soon after he was found involved in the rape case.
Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad’s rookie Azad Samaj Party has fielded Mohammad Yameen in Bulandshahr to test its electoral popularity.
A total of 60.75 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the bypolls held in Abdasa (Kutch), Limbdi (Surendranagar), Morbi (Morbi district), Dhari (Amreli), Gadhada (Botad), Karjan (Vadodara), Dang (Dang district) and Kaprada (Valsad).
The counting will be held at eight centres set up in these constituencies.
The bypolls to two assembly seats — Southern Angami-I in Kohima and Pungro-Kiphire in Kiphire district — were necessitated following the deaths of the sitting legislators Vikho-o Yhoshu and T Torechu.
A three-tier security arrangement has been put in place at the two counting centres, officials said.
Ruling NDPP nominee Medo Yhokha, opposition NPF’s Kikovi Kirha and Independent candidate Seyievilie Peter Zashumo are in the race for the Southern Angami-1 seat.
Five nominees, including Khaseo Anar of the Congress, BJP’s Lirimong Sangtam and Independent candidates K Shellumthong, T Yangseo Sangtam and Kiusumew Yimchunger, are in the fray for the Pungro-Kiphire seat.
The counting of votes for the Balasore bypolls will be held at the campus of the district collector’s office, while in Tirtol, it will be held at the SVM College premises in Jagatsinghpur, Chief Electoral Officer SK Lohani said.
Apart from special barricades, transparent polythene sheets will be placed to effectively maintain social distance. Use of face masks will be mandatory for all counting personnel and agents, Lohani said.
In every table, there will be three counting personnel — a counting assistant, a supervisor and a micro-observer.
State BJP general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan claimed his party will win both the seats as the voters are ‘fed up with the ruling BJD’.
Senior BJD leader DP Mishra said people in both the constituencies have voted for the state’s ruling party as they are keen to see speedy development in their areas.
Around 91.54 percent of the total 1.35 lakh voters exercised their franchise in by-elections to four assembly seats in Manipur on November 7.
A total of 11 candidates were in the fray in Lilong and Wangjing-Tentha seats in Thoubal district, Saitu in Kangpokpi and Wangoi in Imphal West.
The by-elections were necessitated after Congress MLAs of the four seats resigned from the Assembly and quit the party. They have joined the BJP.
The ruling BJP is contesting in three seats and supporting an independent candidate in Lilong seat, while the opposition Congress is in the fray in all four constituencies.
The Wangoi seat will witness an interesting battle as the National People’s Party, a coalition partner of the BJP-led government in the state, fielded its candidate against the nominees of the Congress and the saffron camp.
The by-election in Marwahi was necessitated due to the death of sitting Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) MLA and former CM Ajit Jogi in May this year.
The ruling Congress and main opposition BJP in the state are locked in a direct fight.
The Dubbaka Assembly constituency is witnessing a three-cornered contest involving the ruling TRS and opposition BJP and Congress.
The bypolls were necessitated due to the death of sitting TRS MLA Solipeta Ramalinga Reddy in August this year. His widow Solipeta Sujatha is the ruling party’s choice.
There were 14 candidates, including Olympian wrestler and BJP nominee Yogeshwar Dutt, in the fray in Baroda seat.
The seat had fallen vacant in April following the death of Krishan Hooda, who had won it consecutively thrice in 2009, 2014 and 2019 assembly polls.
The death of Sira JD-S MLA B Satyanarayana in August and the resignation of RR Nagar Congress MLA Munirathna from the assembly last year led to the bypolls.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s home turf Dumka is seeing a contest between his younger brother Basant Soren and former cabinet minister Lois Marandi of the BJP.
It is expected to be a straight fight between BJP’s Yogeshwar Mahato and Anup Singh of the Congress in Bermo seat in Bokaro district.