High voter turn out in by-polls (Roundup)

New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) Amid the travails of demonetisation, a high voter turn out was recorded on Saturday in by-polls for four parliamentary and 10 assembly seats across six states and one union territory.

The polls, which come over 10 days after the government decided to demonetise 500 and 1,000 rupee currency notes, are touted to be a referendum on the BJP-led central government’s move to fight corruption and black money.

Barring sporadic incidents of violence and allegations of booth capturing, polling in all the parliamentary and assembly constituencies was mostly peaceful.

In West Bengal more than 80 per cent of voters exercised their franchise till evening in by-polls for the two Lok Sabha constituencies of Cooch Behar and Tamluk and the assembly seat of Monteshwar.

“The polling percentage till the polling ended at 5 p.m. in Cooch Behar and Tamluk was 77 per cent and 81 per cent respectively. The figure for Monteshwar was 86 per cent,” said an Election Commission official.

But with people still standing in the queues, the polling percentage may go up.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) demanded repolling in Cooch Behar over alleged violence and vote loot by the ruling Trinamool Congress party. They also complained their polling agents were beaten up and stopped from entering the stations by Trinamool-backed miscreants at several places in Tamluk constituency including Haldia, Chaitanyapur and Nandigram.

The Trinamool has denied the accusations.

The Cooch Behar seat fell vacant after the death of Trinamool’s Renuka Sinha, while Tamluk has gone to the hustings as the incumbent MP Suvendu Adhikari became a minister in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Cabinet.

In Assam’s Lakhimpur Lok Sabha constituency and Baithalangso legislative assembly constituency, over 60 per cent of the around 1.7 million voters cast their votes.

An official from the Chief Electoral Office said the polling remained peaceful without any untoward incident and 60.83 per cent voter turnout was recorded in both the constituencies.

Five candidates are in the fray for the Lakhimpur Lok Sabha constituency and three for the Baithalangso legislative assembly constituency.

The Bharatiya Janata Party had fielded party MLA Pradan Baruah for Lakhimpur Lok Sabha seat while the Congress has put up senior party member Hema Hari Pegu as its candidate in the constituency.

Apart from this, the CPI fielded Amiya Kumar Handique followed by SUCI candidate Hem Kanta Miri and Independent candidate Dilip Moran.

The Lakhimpur seat was vacated by Sarbananda Sonowal after he became the Assam Chief Minister.

Demonetisation issues did not deter voters in three assembly constituencies of Tamil Nadu and the lone one in Puducherry in coming out in large numbers to exercise their constitutional right.

According to Election Commission officials polling came to an end at 5 p.m. in all the four constituencies.

While Thirupparankundram saw around 85 per cent polling, Aravakkurichi saw a turnout of around 81 per cent.

However, Thanjavur recorded around 69 percent polling.

In Puducherry’s Nellithope constituency where Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy is contesting, the polling percentage was around 85.

In Aravakkurichi, ruling AIADMK’s V. Senthil Balaji is fighting against the DMK’s K.C. Palanisamy while at Thirupparankundram the AIADMK’s A.K. Bose is facing DMK’s P. Saravanan.

In Thanjavur, the AIADMK’s M. Rengasamy is pitted against the DMK’s Anjugam Bhoopathy.

In Thirupparankundram, the by-election has been necessitated by the death of AIADMK’s legislator S.S. Seenivel.

While there are other parties in the fray, the contest is mainly between the AIADMK and the DMK in Tamil Nadu.

In Puducherry’s Nellithope, Congress leader Narayanasamy is contesting against AIADMK nominee Om Shakthi Segar.

In Left ruled Tripura, over 90 per cent of the 78,400 electorate cast their votes in by-elections to the Scheduled Caste Reserved Barjala and the Khowai assembly constituencies.

“Over 90 per cent voters cast their votes in the two assembly constituencies. Voting was conducted peacefully, there is not a single untoward incident reported from the two constituencies,” additional chief electoral officer of Tripura Debashish Modak told IANS.

The Barjala seat fell vacant after Congress legislator Jitendra Sarkar resigned on June 6 following an internal feud within the party while the Khowai seat has been vacant since the death of veteran CPI-M legislator Samir Deb Sarkar.

Five candidates each are contesting from the two constituencies.

In Madhya Pradesh, 61 per cent vote was recorded in Shahdol parliamentary constituency while 71 per cent voting was recorded in Nepanagar assembly constituency.

The Shahdol seat fell vacant when BJP MP Dalpat Singh Paraste passed away in June.

In Arunachal Pradesh, voting was held for the assembly seat of Hayuliang. Desingu Pul, wife of former Chief Minister Kalikho Pul, is contesting on a BJP ticket. Kalikho Pul committed suicide in August under mysterious conditions.