New Delhi: Campaigning ended Thursday for three Lok Sabha and 33 assembly by-elections spread across various states with the the polls being seen as a test of popularity of respective state governments as also of the BJP which held many of these seats.
Polling will be held Saturday to Medak parliamentary seat in Telangana, Vadodra in Gujarat and Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh. Three assembly seats in Assam, nine in Gujarat, four in Rajasthan, 11 in Uttar Pradesh, two in West Bengal and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Sikkim and Tripura will also go to the polls Saturday.
Gujarat's new Chief Minister Anandiben Patel will face her first major political test in the by-poll to nine assembly and one Lok Sabha seat. The Vadodara Lok Sabha seat was vacated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he was elected to parliament from two places including Varanasi.
Although analysts say that the "Modi Magic" still prevails, Patel, who succeeded Modi in Gandhinagar, will have to ensure a sweeping victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to silence her critics in the party. The nine assembly seats where elections are to be held are Deesa, Maninagar (vacated by Modi), Tankara, Khambhalia, Mangrol, Talaja, Anand, Matar and Limkheda. The last seat is reserved for tribals.
The nine seats were given up by BJP legislators after they were elected to the Lok Sabha. Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party and BJP will be the main contenders in most of the 11 assembly seats and the lone Lok Sabha seat where by-elections will be held Saturday. The BJP, which won a whopping 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in May, has the most at stake as it held all 11 assembly seats along with its ally Apna Dal.
For the Samajwadi Party, the polls are an opportunity to make a comeback, after its disastrous showing in the Lok Sabha battle where its numbers dipped from 22 to five. A total of 25 candidates are in the fray for Saturday's bypolls in Assam's three legislative assembly constituencies - Silchar, Lakhipur and Jamunamukh.
By-election for the Silchar seat was necessitated by Congress legislator Susmita Dev's election to the Lok Sabha while Lakhipur seat fell vacant after the death of sitting member Dinesh Prasad Goala.The Jamunamukh seat was vacated by AIUDF legislator Sirajuddin Ajmal, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Barpeta constituency. In Tripura, over 38,000 voters are eligible to cast their votes in the Manu assembly by-poll.
West Bengal would hold by-polls to the Chowringhee and Basirhat (South) assembly constituencies in what is being considered a crucial indicator of the course of politics in the state. The bypolls are being held in the enlarging shadow of the Saradha chit fund scam probe, which threatens to net political big fish.
The four assembly constituencies in Rajasthan - Nasirabad, Weir, Surajgarh and Kota South - will see closely-fought poll battles between the ruling BJP and the Congress as both parties are confident of winning. In Telangana, the pro-Telangana sentiment is likely to help the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) retain the Medak Lok Sabha seat. Counting for all the assembly and Lok Sabha seats will be held Sep 16.