Bypolls: Moderate to high turnout; sporadic incidents of violence in U'khand, Bengal, Bihar

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New Delhi, Jul 10 (PTI) Moderate to high turnout was recorded in 13 assembly constituencies across seven states where bypolls were held on Wednesday amid sporadic incidents of violence in Uttarakhand, Bihar and West Bengal.

Voting time was from 7 am to 6 pm. According to the Voter Turnout app of the Election Commission (EC), Tamil Nadu's Vikravandi assembly seat registered the highest polling percentage among the 13 constituencies and Uttarakhand's Badrinath seat saw the lowest turnout.

The electoral exercise, the first since the Lok Sabha polls, will decide the fate of many veterans and some debutantes, including Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu's wife Kamlesh Thakur.

Barring some incidents of violence in Bihar, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, polling went on peacefully.

In Uttarakhand's Manglaur constituency, four people were injured in a clash between supporters of rival parties at a polling booth. Roorkee Civil Line Kotwali in-charge R K Saklani told PTI that a report was received about the clash at booth number 53-54 in Libbarheri in Manglaur.

Some reports claimed there was firing at the booth but police denied the reports.

Purported videos of the clash showed Congress candidate and former MLA Qazi Nizamuddin taking a man in bloodstained clothes to the hospital. He accused the BJP of throttling democracy by sowing seeds of hatred. Another video showed him embracing an injured party worker at the hospital.

Violence erupted at the booth when some people with half their faces covered started stopping people from voting, sources said.

While 68.24 per cent of voters exercised their franchise in Manglaur, Badrinath reported a turnout of 49.80 per cent.

The Manglaur bypoll was necessitated by the death of sitting BSP MLA Sarwat Karim Ansari last October, while the Badrinath seat fell vacant after sitting Congress MLA Rajendra Bhandari resigned and switched to the BJP in March.

In West Bengal, violence was reported in Bagdah and Ranaghat Dakshin assembly segments as the BJP accused TMC activists of assaulting its booth agents and stopping its candidates from visiting some polling stations.

BJP candidates Manoj Kumar Biswas and Binay Kumar Biswas from Ranaghat Dakshin and Badgah respectively claimed they were not allowed to visit some booths. Manoj Kumar Biswas alleged that BJP camp offices in some areas were ransacked by the TMC.

BJP's Maniktala candidate Kalyan Chaubey faced protests and was greeted with "go back" slogans allegedly by TMC activists as he tried to enter a booth in the constituency.

The TMC denied the allegations and dubbed them as "baseless".

The BJP has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission against these incidents.

Among the constituencies, Raiganj witnessed the highest turnout at 67.12 per cent, followed by Ranaghat Dakshin at 65.37 per cent, Bagda at 65.15 per cent and Maniktala at 51.39 per cent.

In Bihar, where bypolls were held for the Rupauli assembly seat, two officials were injured when a mob attacked a police party in Purnea.

Sub Divisional Police Officer (Sadar) Pushkar Kumar said polling was disrupted briefly because of the clash and a sub-inspector and a constable were injured.

According to the state election office, a voter turnout of 57.25 per cent was recorded in the bypoll to the Rupauli seat, down from 61.19 per cent the constituency witnessed in the 2020 assembly election.

The bypoll was necessitated by the resignation of sitting MLA Bima Bharti, who had won the seat for the JD(U) several times in the past but quit the party recently to contest the Lok Sabha election on an RJD ticket.

Eleven candidates were in the fray. The JD(U) fielded Kaladhar Prasad Mandal, who had contested the 2020 assembly polls from the seat as an Independent. Former MLA Shankar Singh, who recently quit the LJP (Ram Vilas), was also in the fray as an independent.

In Himachal Pradesh, the Nalagarh assembly constituency recorded the highest polling percentage of 78.82, followed by Hamirpur with 65.78 and Dehra with 63.89.

The seats fell vacant after the three independent legislators Hoshiyar Singh (Dehra), Ashish Sharma (Hamirpur) and K L Thakur (Nalagarh), who had voted in favour of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha polls held on February 27, resigned from the House on March 22.

In Punjab, the bypoll to the Jalandhar West assembly segment saw a voter turnout of 51.30 per cent.

At many polling stations, voters were gifted plants.

The ruling AAP fielded Mohinder Bhagat, the son of former minister and former BJP MLA Bhagat Chunni Lal from the seat. Bhagat had joined AAP after quitting the BJP last year.

The Congress bet on Surinder Kaur, a former senior deputy mayor and five-time municipal councillor in Jalandhar. She is a prominent Dalit leader of the Ravidassia community.

The BJP fielded Angural, who switched sides in March after quitting AAP. He won this seat in the 2022 Punjab assembly polls on an AAP ticket.

Brisk polling was witnessed in the bypoll to the Vikravandi assembly constituency in Tamil Nadu with voters queuing up in large numbers at polling stations to exercise their franchise since the morning. As per EC data, 82.48 per cent of voters exercised their franchise.

The bypoll was necessitated by the demise of DMK legislator N Pughazhendhi.

It is a triangular contest in Vikravandi with ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's candidate Anniyur Siva (alias Sivashanmugam A) pitted against Pattali Makkal Katchi's (PMK) C Anbumani and Naam Tamilar Katchi's K Abinaya.

Polling was also held for the Amarwara (ST) assembly seat in Madhya Pradesh and the polling percentage recorded was at 78.71. The by-election was necessitated after three-time Congress MLA Kamlesh Shah switched to the BJP in March. PTI TEAM IJT IJT

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