Representative (Image: PTI)
The results for bypolls to seven assembly seats in six states will be declared on Friday in what is being seen as a major test for the opposition alliance INDIA against the BJP-led NDA ahead of the polls in five states later this year and Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
The counting of votes began at 8 am at centres set up in the respective states.
The seven seats -- Bageshwar in Uttarakhand, Ghosi in Uttar Pradesh, Puthuppally in Kerala, Dhupguri in West Bengal, Dumri in Jharkhand, and Boxanagar and Dhanpur in Tripura -- went to polls on September 5.
The by-election saw the INDIA alliance putting up a united front in the Ghosi constituency in Uttar Pradesh where the polling percentage was 50.77 and in Jharkhand's Dumri where a total of 64.84 per cent of 2.98 lakh voters exercised their franchise.
Out of the seven seats, three (Dhanpur, Bageshwar and Dhupguri) were held by the BJP and one each by the Samajwadi Party (Ghosi), CPI(M) (Boxanagar), JMM (Dumri) and the Congress (Puthuppally).
In Uttar Pradesh, the Ghosi seat fell vacant after the resignation of SP MLA and OBC leader Dara Singh Chauhan, who rejoined the BJP.
For the Bageshwar assembly bypoll in Uttarakhand, the counting will be done at 14 tables with 130 polling personnel on the job, District Magistrate Anuradha Pal said on Thursday.
The Bageshwar seat fell vacant after the death of its MLA and cabinet minister Chandan Ram Das in April this year. He had won the seat four times since 2007.
In Jharkhand, INDIA bloc and NDA candidates are keeping their fingers crossed ahead of the counting to Dumri assembly bypolls. The counting centre has been set up at Krishi Bazar Samiti, Pachambha, in Giridih district, an election official said.
"In all, 24 rounds of counting will be held and over 70 officials have been deployed for the exercise," Giridih Deputy Commissioner-cum-Election Officer Naman Priesh Lakra told PTI.
"Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and various wings of the Jharkhand police have been deployed to ensure free and fair counting," he said.
In Tripura, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has taken necessary steps to conduct the counting in a transparent way, a senior poll official said on Thursday.
Counting of votes to both the seats -- Boxanagar and Dhanpur -- will take place at Sonamura Girls' HS School. "There is tight security at the counting centre," Sepahijala District Magistrate Vishal Kumar told PTI.
BJP's Tafajjal Hussain, who unsuccessfully contested the last assembly election from Boxanagar, is contesting against CPI(M) nominee Mizan Hussain from there.
On Wednesday, the CPI(M) announced it would boycott the counting, alleging large-scale rigging in the two constituencies during voting.
In West Bengal's Dhupguri, personnel of CAPFs and the state police are guarding the strong room on the second campus of North Bengal University in Jalpaiguri, an official said.
Around 76 per cent of 2.6 lakh eligible voters exercised their franchise in the by-election.
CPI(M)'s Ishwar Chandra Roy is contesting as the candidate of the Congress-Left alliance, while the ruling TMC has fielded Nirmal Chandra Roy, a teacher.
The BJP has nominated Tapasi Roy, the widow of a CRPF jawan who died fighting terrorists in Kashmir a few years back.
The bypoll to the seat was necessitated due to the death of sitting BJP MLA Bishu Pada Ray earlier this year.
Dhupguri, a seat reserved for Scheduled Castes, has nearly 50 per cent Rajbanshi people and 15 per cent minority population.
Kerala is also anxiously waiting for the result of the Puthuppally bypoll that saw an intense battle between the UDF and the LDF to fill the seat left vacant by the demise of Congress stalwart Oommen Chandy.
The constituency in southern Kottayam district witnessed a war of words over the past few weeks as the September 5 by-election was a prestigious battle for both the ruling and opposition fronts in the state.
According to Election Commission sources, the counting of votes would begin by 8 am at the special counting station in the Baselius College. Postal and service ballots would be counted first, they said.
The total number of booths in Puthuppally was 182 and the counting of votes in the electronic voting machines would be conducted in 13 rounds.
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