Bypolls for Araria Lok Sabha seat, two Assembly constituencies in Bihar record 54 percent voting
The by-poll in Araria is being viewed as a test for the ruling JD(U)-BJP combine as well as the opposition RJD-Congress alliance, ahead of the big battle in the general elections due next year.
PATNA: Polling for Bihar’s Araria Lok Sabha seat and the Assembly constituencies of Jehanabad and Bhabhua passed off peacefully with an average 54 per cent voting on Sunday. Both the running NDA and the Opposition UPA made claims about victory soon after polling ended.
In Muslim-dominated Araria, which has emerged as the flagship electoral battle in Bihar, 57 per cent of the 17.38 eligible voters exercised their franchise. Jehanabad and Bhabhua registered 50.6 and 54.3 per cent polling respectively. The low voter turnout, apart from a general lack of public enthusiasm usual in bypolls, was attributed to the harvest season for ravi crops.
Reports of defective EVMs came from Bhabhua Assembly constituency, where voting was affected at 24 polling stations. Election officials said the machines were quickly replaced. Bihar Congress chief Kaukab Quadri claimed that 137 EVMs had faced “technical glitches” and harmed the flow of voting.
“Defective EVMs were deliberately sent to polling booths in rural areas in order to influence the results of the elections. Fresh polling must take place in all these booths,” said Quadri. In Bhabhua, Shambhu Singh Patel of Congress is locked in a tough contest with BJP’s Rinky Rani, the widow of BJP legislator Anand Bhushan Pandey who held the seat. There were 17 candidates in the fray in Bhabhua.
Araria, where Muslims account for over 41 per cent of the electorate, the main contest was between the ruling BJP’s Pradip Kumar Singh and RJD’s Sarfaraz Alam, whose late father Mohammad Taslimuddin had won the seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls by a margin of over 1.46 lakh votes. There were seven candidates in the fray in Araria, the third most important being Victor Yadav of Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party (JAP).
The battle in Jehanabad was between the ruling JD(U)’s Abhiram Sharma and RJD’s Suday Yadav, son of late Munkrika Yadav who had won the seat in the 2015 Assembly polls.
These bypolls being the first elections after CM and JD(U) stalwart Nitish Kumar walked out of the grand alliance and formed a government in alliance with BJP in July 2017, they are being widely viewed as a mini-referendum on the ruling NDA.