Delhi: The results of elections in seven assembly seats across six states will be declared today. Prestige battles are being fought in Bihar and Telangana, and a family legacy is on the line in Haryana. While in Telangana BJP trails behind, RJP lreads in Bihar.
After the first few rounds of counting, the BJP is leading in Uttar Pradesh’s Gola Gokrannath, Haryana’s Adampur, Bihar’s Gopalganj and Odisha’s Dhamnagar, and the Tejashwi Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal is ahead in Bihar’s Mokama. The K Chandrashekar’s Rao’s Telangana Rashtriya Samithi in ahead in Munugode and the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction is set for a win in Mumbai’s Andheri East seat.
Of the seven seats, the BJP held three, the Congress two, while the Shiv Sena and the RJD had one each before bypolls were necessitated. Two of the seats are in Bihar and one each in UP, Haryana, Maharashtra, Telangana and Odisha.
Bihar is seeing the first contest – on two seats – since Nitish Kumar dumped the BJP to revive the JDU’s alliance with Tejashwi Yadav’s RJD. RJD candidate Neelam Devi, wife of Anant Singh who was disqualified after being convicted of illegally keeping guns, is leading in Mokama.
In Gopalganj, the RJD is hoping to oust the BJP which has held it for nearly two decades now. It has put up Mohan Prasad Gupta against the BJP’s Kusum Devi, whose husband Subhas Singh’s death necessitated the election.
In Haryana, former chief minister Bhajan Lal’s family seat Adampur will decide whether his grandson Bhavya Bishnoi can carry the 68-year legacy forward after switching from the Congress to BJP. Bhavya’s father Kuldeep Bishnoi, who led the family into the BJP, resigned as Adampur MLA as he defected, leading to this bypoll.
Maharashtra’s Andheri East is seeing two firsts. It’s the first poll fight after Shiv Sena was cleaved into two as Eknath Shinde unseated Uddhav Thackeray to become Chief Minister with BJP’s help. And it’s the first in decades that the Thackerays-led Sena is fighting with a new name – Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) – and a new symbol, the ‘mashaal’ or flaming torch.
Shiv Sena (Uddhav) candidate Rutuja Latke is the widow of former Sena MLA from Andheri (East), who died after a heart attack in May 2022 in Dubai. The BJP had withdrawn its candidate as part of “political tradition” in polls necessitated by a leader’s death.
In Telangana, Munugode saw the ruling TRS and its sworn rival BJP fight it out on the ground and made allegations involving “crores of rupees” – especially given Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s ambition to set up a challenge to PM Narendra Modi in 2024. Here the Congress MLA had resigned and is now fighting on the BJP ticket.
In Odisha’s Dhamnagar, too, the ruling regional party BJD is facing the BJP. The BJP won it last time but MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi’s death led to this contest. It has fielded his son.
In its stronghold UP, the BJP is seeking to retain the Gola Gokarannath seat, which fell vacant after the death of its MLA Arvind Giri on September 6. The BSP and Congress are keeping away, so it’s a direct fight between Arvind Giri’s son Aman Giri (BJP) and the Samajwadi Party’s Vinay Tiwari, a former MLA.
None of these contests is likely to upset the math for current state governments. But, with regional parties looking to put together a united front for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections – just a year and a half away – these could serve as booster shots, or perception busters, depending on the results.