By-elections: Counting of votes in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, UP, Bihar underway

Counting of votes for Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections in progress at a centre in Shimla on Thursday | Photo: PTI

New Delhi: The counting of votes in six assembly and one Lok Sabha by-elections, along with Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, is underway. Prohibitory orders are in place around counting halls to ensure peace and tranquility. According to the Election Commission, the counting of votes is taking place at 116 counting centres in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, and Odisha, Bihar, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh.

Counting of votes for the by-election to the Bhanupratappur Assembly seat began at 8 am on Thursday with the ruling Congress eyeing to retain the tribal-dominated constituency. A voter turnout of 71.74 per cent was recorded in the bypoll held on December 5. The seat is reserved for Scheduled Tribe candidates and is located in the Maoist-affected Kanker district.

The bypoll in Bhanupratappur was necessitated following the death of Congress MLA and deputy speaker of Assembly Manoj Singh Mandavi on October 16.

The Congress fielded Savitri Mandavi, the wife of late MLA, while the BJP nominated former legislator Brahmanand Netam for the polls. The Sarva Adivasi Samaj, an umbrella body of tribal communities in Bastar, fielded former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Akbar Ram Korram, who contested as an independent.

Postal ballots will be counted first followed by votes cast in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), an official said, adding the entire process will be completed in 19 rounds.

The counting of votes for the bypoll to Sardarshahar Assembly seat in Rajasthan's Churu district began on Thursday morning. The constituency recorded a voting percentage of 72.09 per cent on polling day on Monday.

A total of 2,89,843 voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in the bypoll necessitated by the demise of Congress MLA Bhanwar Lal Sharma, who passed away on October 9 after prolonged illness.
Polling was held amid tight security arrangements across all 295 booths in the assembly segment.

The Congress fielded Sharma's son Anil Kumar, while former MLA Ashok Kumar is the BJP candidate. Eight other candidates are in the fray: Lalchand of the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP), Sanwarmal Meghwal of the CPM, Parmana Ram of the Indian People's Green Party, and Independent candidates Subhash Chandra, Vijay Pal Singh Sheoran, Umesh Sahu, Prem Singh, and Surendra Singh Rajpurohit.

Security personnel stand guard as counting of votes for Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections is underway at a centre in Shimla on Thursday | Photo: PTI

Uttar Pradesh
Counting of votes for Mainpuri parliamentary constituency, previously represented by Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, and Rampur and Khatauli assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh also began on Thursday.

Mainpuri parliamentary constituency, which fell vacant after the death of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, registered 54.01 per cent voting. Khatauli assembly segment in Muzaffarnagar had recorded 56.46 per cent polling on December 5 while Rampur had seen a low 33 per cent voting.

Bypoll in Rampur Sadar and Khatauli has been necessitated due to disqualification of SP MLA Azam Khan and BJP MLA Vikram Singh Saini following their conviction by separate courts in different matters.

The bypolls are witnessing a direct contest between the ruling BJP and the opposition Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) alliance. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Congress are not in the fray. Though the outcome of the results on the three places would not make much difference to the government at the Centre as well as in Uttar Pradesh as the BJP has a comfortable majority at both the places, a win would give psychological advantage to the winner in the run-up to the 2024 general election.

Counting of votes for the by-election to Kurhani assembly constituency in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district is underway amid tight security arrangements.

Nearly 58 per cent of voters exercised their franchise on Monday in the by-poll to Kurhani where Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U) and the BJP have locked horns for the first time since their break-up four months ago.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made for the counting centre at the RDS College in Muzaffarpur, a senior official of the office of the state Chief Electoral officer said.

Altogether 13 candidates, five of them Independents, are in the fray though the contest is being seen, primarily, as between the BJP's Kedar Gupta and the JD(U)'s Manoj Singh Kushwaha. Both are former MLAs.

The by-poll was necessitated by the disqualification of sitting RJD MLA Anil Kumar Sahani.

(With inputs from PTI)

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