Lucknow: The polling percentage hovered around an average of 51.21% till 5 pm as voting for the bypolls to seven Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh was underway on Tuesday amid the coronavirus pandemic. The polling started at 7 am amid tight security and special arrangements for COVID-19.
According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), the voting percentages in the seven Assembly constituencies till 5 pm were 44.45% in Bangarmau, 49.77% in Bulandshahr, 48.48% in Deoria, 47.65% in Ghatampur, 55.6% in Malhani, 57.6% in Naugawan Sadat and 50% in Tundla.
An estimated 50% of the total 10.25 lakh electors have cast their votes till 5:00 pm on Tuesday in all the Assembly constituencies. According to the latest figures, the highest turnout was recorded in Naugawan Sadat, and the lowest at Ghatampur.
The electoral fortune of 88 candidates, including nine women, will be decided by 24.34 lakh voters, including 13.03 lakh male voters. This is the first democratic exercise that was held in the state post-COVID-19 pandemic. The voters are eligible to exercise their franchise at 3,655 polling booths spread over 1,754 polling centres.
Six of the seven seats were held by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) except for the Malhani seat, which was with the Samajwadi Party (SP).
Bulandshahr has the highest number with 18 candidates; Ghatampur has the lowest number of candidates with six in the fray. Sixteen contenders are there in Malhani, 14 each in Naugawan Sadat and Deoria, 10 each in Bangarmau and Tundla.
VOTERS IN TUNDLA BOYCOTT POLLS OVER DEVELOPMENT
Villagers in Tundla Assembly constituency of Firozabad district boycotted the by-election on Tuesday, alleging that no development work had taken place in their respective areas in three and half years of the BJP government.
With the slogan “Vikas nahi, toh vote nahi” (no development, no vote), voters at the Rudhau Mustkil booth no. 30 boycotted the polling. At this booth, there are 629 voters and no vote was cast till 1 pm.
Tundla Sub-divisional Magistrate Ekta Singh was seen convincing the voters and asking them to vote. However, the voters were adamant and told the media that they would not vote till they get the assurance of development from the government representative.
CANDIDATES AND CONSTITUENCIES
Both Chetan Chauhan and Kamal Rani Varun of the ruling party had succumbed to COVID-19. The Bangarmau (Unnao) seat fell vacant following the conviction of former BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in a rape case. He had won on a BJP ticket but the party dumped him following a hue and cry after his conviction.
The seats of Bulandshahr, Deoria and Malhani went for bypolls due to the demise of sitting MLAs Virendra Singh Sirohi, Janmejay Singh and Parasnath Yadav (SP).
CM Yogi Adityanath was seen flaunting the abrogation of Article 370 and the construction of the Ram Mandir as a fulfilment of promises made by the BJP. In his rallies, he even raised contentious issues like bringing a law against “love jihad” and promised to take stern action against cow slaughter. While Oppostion parties attacked him and BJP over deteriorating law and order incidents — the latest being the rape case at Hathras involving a Dalit girl.
The bypolls have seen a triangular fight between the BJP, SP and BSP, but ever since Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra became quite active in the state in the past few months, the fight turned interesting in a couple of seats. The bypolls have seen a fight among the SP, BSP and Congress to claim the position of the main Opposition against the BJP as the state heads towards the 2022 Assembly polls.
RESULTS MAY BE DIFFERENT FROM 2017
The BJP had won six of the seven seats in the 2017 assembly elections. This time, in a multi-polar contest, the BJP faces a string of questions making the contest keenly watched. Unlike the top leadership of the SP, the BSP and the Congress, CM Adityanath personally campaigned, first virtually and then in public meetings along with his deputies Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma. The other parties left the campaign to their second layer of leaders.
According to the Election commission of India’s website, the BSP in stood second position in three constituencies after BJP in 2017. The SP was in the second position in three constituencies and had won Malhani constituency. The voting percentage of the BJP in all seven assembly constituencies was above 45%.
Speaking to NewsClick over the voting percentage and the mood of people ahead of the upcoming 2022 Assembly elections, Jitendra Mishra, a political analyst said that the average voter turnout should be assumed as a reflection that common people are angry with the BJP and Adityanath in terms of law and order and the way this government is treating people while identifying their religion. "Out of seven seats, BJP is going to lose almost four seats. The SP has an edge,” Mishra said.