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Varied turnout in key bypolls to 13 Assembly seats in seven states

New Delhi, July 10 : Bypolls were held in 13 Assembly constituencies across seven states on Wednesday in the first electoral contest since the Lok Sabha polls with the results likely to have an impact on the political fate of the state’s ruling and opposition parties.

The bypolls were held in West Bengal (4 seats), Himachal Pradesh (3 seats), Uttarakhand (2 seats), Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, and Punjab (1 seat each) to fill the seats falling vacant due to the demise or resignation of incumbent members.

In Himachal Pradesh, where bypolls were necessitated by the resignation of the sitting Independent members, who later joined the BJP, it was a straight contest between the Congress and the BJP. The stakes are high for Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu with his wife Kamlesh Thakur making her electoral debut from Dehra in Kangra district.

This constituency was carved out after delimitation in 2010 and the Congress has never won this seat.

The Chief Minister campaigned aggressively in Dehra, compared to two other seats, to ensure victory for Kamlesh Thakur, who is in the fray against BJP nominee Hoshiyar Singh.

Election officials said that Himachal witnessed a voter turnout of over 71 per cent till 7 p.m. and polls were largely peaceful.

As per the Election Commission, the Nalagarh constituency recorded the highest polling of 78 per cent, followed by Hamirpur (67.7 per cent) and Dehra (65.42 per cent).

In Bihar, the Rupauli Assembly segment in Purnea district, where RJD candidate Bima Bharti the only woman among the 11 candidates, registered 52.75 per cent polling till 6 p.m.. Bharti, who had resigned from the Rupauli seat to contest the Lok Sabha elections, faces ruling JD-U’s Kaladhar Mandal (JD-U).

Several incidents of violence were also reported during the day leaving four persons, including an SHO, injured in clashes.

The people allege that the district police forcibly stopped them from polling their votes, leading to a scuffle that escalated into stone-pelting. The district police, however, have denied these allegations.

Another incident was reported in Gorier village, where the wife of independent candidate Shankar Singh accused the police of carrying out a baton charge on voters. She sat on a dharna, but the situation soon stabilised while the voting resumed.

In West Bengal, the bypolls were held for Raiganj, Ranaghat-Dakshin, Bagda, and Maniktala seats amid violence and alleged malpractices.

The polling saw 62.71 per cent voter turnout by 5 p.m. – as per the last available figures. The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) office has said that the final polling percentage will be available only on Thursday after the completion of the tabulation of reports coming from different polling booths.

The maximum polling percentage was reported from Raiganj in North Dinajpur district at 67.12 per cent, while the lowest was reported from Maniktala in Kolkata at 51.39 per cent.

Over 51 per cent polling was recorded, till 5 p.m., in Punjab’s Jalandhar West (SC) constituency where Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had made the contest a prestige issue by campaigning extensively for his AAP candidate Mohinder Bhagat.

In Madhya Pradesh, 78.38 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the Amarwara Assembly seat in Chhindwara district – the erstwhile bastion of senior Congress leader Kamal Nath – where the bypoll was necessitated by sitting Congress MLA Kamlesh Shah resigning and joining the BJP, which fielded him.

A low of 47.68 per cent turnout was recorded in Uttarakhand’s Badrinath seat, while Manglaur recorded a high of 67.28 per cent.

In Tamil Nadu’s Vikravandi Assembly seat, where the contest is between the state’s ruling DMK and NDA constituent PMK, with the AIADMK not contesting, 77.73 per cent turnout was recorded till 5 p.m.

An election official said that the results for all 13 seats will be declared on July 13.

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