Bypolls to 10 assembly seats in West Bengal likely to be held by year-end

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Kolkata, Jun 7 (PTI) At least 10 assembly segments in West Bengal are likely to go for bypolls by the end of this year on account of those seats left vacant by sitting MLAs, who either clinched victory in the Lok Sabha polls or unsuccessfully contested after resigning from their positions, officials said.

The list also includes a seat, where by-elections are due since 2022, but couldn't be held on account of a legal dispute. Decks have now been cleared with the litigant withdrawing his petition.

Elections to seats falling vacant, according to The Representation of the People Act, 1951, should be completed by the Election Commission "within a period of six months from the date of occurrence of the vacancy".

The scheduled state assembly polls in West Bengal for all 292 seats are scheduled in 2026 upon expiry of the government's current term.

The assembly segments of Haroa and Naihati in North 24 Parganas district, Sitai in Cooch Behar, Taldangra in Bankura, Madarihat in Alipurduars and Medinipur have fallen vacant since their respective sitting MLAs contested and won the Lok Sabha polls.

TMC's June Maliah, sitting Medinipur MLA wrested the Medinipur Lok Sabha seat from the BJP. The feat was also repeated by the party's sitting Sitai MLA Jagadish Chandra Basunia and sitting Taldangra MLA Arup Chakraborty, at the Cooch Behar and Bankura parliamentary segments respectively.

The party's Naihati MLA and state minister Partha Bhowmik humbled BJP's Arjun Singh from the prestigious Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency leaving the assembly seat vacant.

While TMC's Haroa MLA Haji Nurul Islam retained the prime Lok Sabha constituency of Basirhat, BJP's Manoj Tigga, party's chief whip at the Bengal assembly and Madarihat MLA, swept the Alipurduars constituency.

Three other assembly segments of the state too are in need of legislators since their sitting lawmakers had resigned from their respective positions before contesting the Lok Sabha polls and, subsequently, failing to succeed.

The list includes BJP turncoats Krishna Kalyani from Raigunj, Mukut Mani Adhikary from Ranaghat Dakshin and Biswajit Das from Bagdah who unsuccessfully fought for the Raigunj, Ranaghat and Bongaon seats respectively.

The Maniktala assembly seat fell vacant due to the death of sitting TMC MLA Sadhan Pande on February 20, 2022. However, bypolls had to be put at bay because the BJP candidate from the seat, Kalyan Chaubey, filed an election petition in the Calcutta High Court alleging irregularities in polling and demanded a recount of votes.

The Representation of the People Act, 1951 forbids the holding of elections in a seat until legal disputes arising out of the polls are resolved by the court.

In May this year, Chaubey withdrew his petition in consideration of the difficulties the electorate continued to face in absence of a legislator.

"The TMC may have indulged in electoral malpractices in Maniktala and resorted to post-poll violence here, but the common people are suffering because I challenged the poll process and the results. I withdrew my petition stating that the EC should ensure that the bypolls here are held in a free and fair manner," Chaubey said.

Confirming the impending bypolls in the 10 seats, Bengal assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee said, "The onus of finalizing the poll dates is on the Election Commission. But I feel that there shouldn't be any delay in announcing the dates keeping in mind the needs of the people concerned." PTI SMY MNB

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