New Delhi: Moderate to high turnout on Saturday marked the by-elections held in 3 Lok Sabha and 33 assembly constituencies spread across ten states in an exercise seen as yet another key test of Narendra Modi government's popularity since it assumed power in May.
The polling in the three LS constituencies--Vadodara (Gujarat), Mainpuri (Uttar Pradesh), where Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, the nextgen of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's extended family is making his debut, and Medak (Telangana) where BJP is locked in a straight fight with ruling TRS--was recorded at 49, 56 and 67 per cent respectively.
While the turnout was 53 per cent in the 11 assembly constituencies in UP, where BJP and its ally Apna Dal are hoping to retain all of them, the nine assembly seats in Gujarat, where the bypoll is considered as much a challenge for Anandien Patel, Modi's successor as chief minister, saw 49 per cent polling.
Four assembly seats in Rajasthan saw a voting figure of 66 per cent while contrasting turnout was recorded in Basirhat Dakshin and Chowringhee in West Bengal, where ruling Saradha scam-singed Trinamool Congress is seeking to retain the two seats, with 79.59 and 47.13 per cent respectively.
50 per cent voting was witnessed in Antagarh assembly segment in Maoist-hit Kanker district of Chhattisgarh while the three assembly constituencies in Assam, where ruling Congress is looking to recover some ground after the Lok Sabha poll setbacks, recorded 70 per cent polling and over 87 per cent was the turnout in Tripura's Manu seat.
68 per cent turnout was registered in Nandigama assembly seat in Andhra Pradesh where ruling TDP is pitted against Congress.
Counting of votes is scheduled for September 16.
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.
Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat, vacated by Mulayam Singh Yadav who had won from two LS seats including Azamgarh, is a matter of prestige for his party, BJP chief Amit Shah also faces the challenge in the bypolls in UP as he is considered the main strategist behind the party's stupendous success in last Lok Sabha poll.
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 in UP, 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 outcome of the 11 bypolls in UP could be a pointer to which way the political wind is blowing in the run up to 2017 assembly polls.
The polling percentage at the two assembly seats in West Bengal declined compared to previous elections in these segments.
State Chief Electoral Officer(CEO) Sunil Gupta told reporters that at 6 pm the polling percentage at Basirhat Dakshin constituency was 79.59 per cent and just 47.13 per cent at Chowringhee seat in the city.
In May Lok Sabha polls, the poll percentage in Basirhat Dakshin constituency was 85.22 per cent, while that of Chowringhee was 57.72 per cent, he said adding that the corresponding figures for the last assembly polls in 2011 was 86.98 per cent and 54.34 per cent respectively.
Trinamool Congress' Naina Bandopadhayay, wife of same party MP Sudip Bandopadhayay, BJP's Ritesh Tewari, CPI(M)'s Faiyaz Ahmed Khan and Congress's Santosh Pathak contested the by-polls from Chowringhee seat.
From Basirhat Dakshin, Shamik Bhattacharya of BJP, footballer Dipendu Biswas of Trinamool, Asit Majumder of Congress and Mrinal Chakrabarty of CPI(M) were the candidates.
In Medak, TRS' K Prabhakar Reddy is locked in a contest with BJP's T Jayaprakash Reddy in Medak, the seat vacated by K C Chandrasekhar Rao on becoming the Chief Minister.
The Chief Minister exercised his franchise at Chintamadaka, his native village under Siddipet segment.
In Nandigama, polling picked up in the latter half of the day to cross 65 per cent mark. The by-poll was held following death of MLA-elect Tangirala Prabhakar. His daughter Sowmya fought the by-election as Telugu Desam Party nominee against B Babu Rao of Congress.
Polling was peaceful in Antagarh?assembly constituency in the Naxal-affected Kanker district of Chhattisgarh, with a turnout of 49.86 per cent, joint chief electoral officer D D Singh told PTI. The seat is held by ruling BJP.
Despite Naxal threats, around 77 percent of the voters had exercised the franchise in the constituency during last year's assembly elections.