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Pratik Das, Pune

On July 8, campaigning concluded for the Assembly byelections scheduled on July 10 in 13 constituencies for seven states: Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, and Himachal Pradesh.

The bypolls will attract significant attention, especially in Himachal Pradesh, where elections will occur in the three constituencies of Dehra, Hamirpur, and Nalagarh. These seats were vacated by Independent MLAs who joined the BJP. Despite the Congress having secured a majority in the Assembly by winning four of the six seats in the recent by-polls held alongside the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP is optimistic about a favorable outcome in these three constituencies.

In Dehra, Kamlesh Thakur, the Congress candidate and wife of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, is competing against the BJP’s Hoshiyar Singh. Hoshiyar Singh is one of the three Independents who initially aligned with the Congress before switching to the BJP.

Former Union Minister and BJP MP from Hamirpur, Anurag Thakur, spearheaded the campaign for the bypolls. In Tamil Nadu’s Vikravandi Assembly constituency, prominent leaders from the DMK, PMK, and Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) were actively involved in the campaign, exchanging sharp criticisms and allegations. The DMK assigned a team of Ministers, MLAs, and MPs to the constituency, organizing their efforts from the announcement of the election. In response, the PMK endeavored to mobilize National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders to match the DMK’s campaign presence.

The DMK’s campaign primarily highlighted the implementation of welfare schemes over the past three years. In contrast, the PMK concentrated on criticizing the DMK’s failures in maintaining law and order, notably the recent hooch tragedy, and its delays in granting a 10.5% internal reservation for Vanniyars and conducting a caste-wise census in the State.

In West Bengal, by-polls became necessary in three of the four constituencies after BJP MLAs defected to the Trinamool Congress. The upcoming elections will determine whether the BJP can retain control of the Raiganj, Ranaghat Dakshin, and Bagda seats.

The fourth seat, Maniktala, was vacated following the death of the incumbent Trinamool MLA Sadhan Pande. Supti Pande, his wife and the Trinamool Congress candidate, stated that she is contesting to uphold her late husband’s legacy.

In Punjab, the Jalandhar West Assembly seat became vacant when Sheetal Angural resigned from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and joined the BJP. Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, along with senior leaders, led the campaign to secure a victory for the AAP candidate, especially following the party’s poor performance in the recent Lok Sabha election.

In Bihar’s Rupauli constituency, Independent MP Rajesh Ranjan, also known as Pappu Yadav, declared “full support” for RJD candidate Bima Bharti, whom he had defeated in the recent Lok Sabha election. The Rupauli Assembly seat falls within his Purnea Lok Sabha constituency. 

The vote counting for the by-polls is scheduled for July 13.


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