Campaigning ends for bypolls to 54 assembly seats

DARJEELING, INDIA - APRIL 10: Supporters wearing masks of BJP Prime Minister candidate Narendra Modi during his election rally at Siliguri on April 10, 2014 in Darjeeling, India. Around 815 million people have registered to vote in worlds biggest election, in which the battle is between pro-business Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi against the Nehru-Gandhi familys unpopular ruling Congress party. (Photo by Bikram Sashanker/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Campaigning ended on Sunday for by-elections to 54 assembly constituencies in 10 states including 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh where the high-stake contest that will decide the fate of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government saw the parties launching vitriolic attacks against each other.

There was hectic canvassing for the Tuesday by-elections in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Election Commission (EC) restricting the number of star campaigners and issuing strict guidelines for gatherings.

The main contenders, BJP and Congress, traded barbs especially in Madhya Pradesh where the EC had to reprimand leaders of both the parties and even revoked the star campaigner status of former Chief Minister Kamal Nath, who challenged it in the Supreme Court.
In over 30 seats in MP, Gujarat and Karnataka, the BJP has fielded former Congress MLAs who quit to join the saffron party.

The BJP, which has a comfortable majority in the UP Assembly, is locked in a battle of prestige on seven seats, with the opposition taking on the Yogi Adityanath government on the law and order issue.

In Gujarat, the bypolls are being held in eight seats after the Congress MLAs resigned. Five of them later joined the ruling BJP and are contesting again.

Assembly bypolls will also be held in Chhattisgarh (1 seat), Haryana (1), Jharkhand (2), Karnataka (2), Nagaland (2), Odisha (2) and Telangana (1).

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