New Delhi: Campaigning ended on Thursday for by-elections to 3 Lok Sabha and 33 assembly constituencies across nine states on September 13 which are expected to be yet another major test of Narendra Modi government's popularity since it assumed power in May.
The three Lok Sabha bypolls are in Vadodara (Gujarat), Mainpuri (Uttar Pradesh) and Medak (Telangana) while 11 assembly constituencies are in UP, nine in Gujarat, four in Rajasthan, two in West Bengal, five in Northeast and one each in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
Stakes are high for BJP, Congress, Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh after the saffron party's near-total sweep of the 80 seats in Lok Sabha polls just four months ago while Trinamool Congress battles to retain two assembly seats in West Bengal in the face of Saradha chit fund scam that has already ensnared some of its leaders.
If retaining Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat, vacated by SP supremo Mualayam Singh Yadav who had won from two LS seats including Azamgarh, is a matter of prestige for his party, BJP faces the challenge of holding on to the 11 assembly seats won earlier by the party.
SP is going all out to retain Mainpuri where the bypoll would mark the launch of Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, the gennext of the extended of Mulayam Singh Yadav family. Tej is the grandson of SP chief's elder brother. The challenge for SP is not just to win the seat again but also to maintain the big margin with which Mulayama had romped home.
In Mainpuri, BSP and Congress have not fielded their candidates, leaving a straight contest between Tej Pratap Singh and BJP's Shiv Singh Shakya.
While BSP, which drew a blank in Lok Sabha polls, is not contesting the byelections, Congress and SP have fielded candidates in all the 11 assembly seats and BJP is contesting in 10 and its ally Apna Dal in one.
The 11 assembly seats in UP, whose outcome may be a pointer to which way the political wind is blowing in the run up to 2017 assembly polls, are Saharanpur Nagar, Noida, Thakurdwara, Bijnor, Nighasan, Balha, Sirathu, Rohaniya, Hamirpur, Charkhari and Lucknow East. All of these were vacated by BJP MLAs who won the Lok Sabha elections.
In Gujarat, Narendra Modi's successor as chief minister in Gujarat, Anandiben Patel, faces her first big test when by-elections are held for Vadodara LS seat and in nine assembly constituencies.
This is the first election in Gujarat in more than 12
years that BJP would be fighting without its star campaigner Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Medak LS seat, once part of undivided Andhra Pradesh and now in Telangana, witnesses a triangular contest between ruling TRS, BJP, and Congress. The bypoll was necessitated as TRS chief and chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao vacated the seat.
On the other hand, TDP is trying hard to prove it won't be easy to conquer its bastion Nandigama assembly where the byelection was forced by the death of MLA Tangirala Prabhakara Rao within days of his victory.
In West Bengal, Chowringhee and Dakshin Bashirhat assembly seats had been won by CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress for which the bypolls are a crucial test of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's popularity.
Buyoed by its modest gains in Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal and relying on Modi's charisma, BJP hopes to wrest the Bashirhat Dakshin seat from Trinamool and make its debut in the state assembly.
The party's Lok Sabha candidate Samik Bhattacharjee had led from the assembly segment in Basirhat Lok Sabha constituency in 2014 Lok Sabha polls by 30,000 votes and in Chowringhee, a part of South Kolkata Lok Sabha constituency, TMC had trailed by 1,500 votes to Congress candidate Somen Mitra in Lok Sabha election.
In Rajasthan, Weir in Bharatpur, Nasirabad in Ajmer, Surajgarh in Jhunjhunu and Kota South, will elect new MLAs as Congress seeks to recover from its worst performance ever of 21 seats in Rajasthan assembly and BJP pulls all the stops to ensure its historic tally of 163 of the 200 assembly seats.
After its poor show in LS poll, Congress again faces challenge in Assam against BJP as well as perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal's All India United Democratic Front. The three assembly seats up for grab are Lakhipur, Silchar and Jamunamukh.