Bypolls are underway in 4 Lok Sabha constituencies and 14 assembly seats across 7 states and one union territory in the country after the Election Commission announced dates on Monday.
The polling for the Lok Sabha and Assembly seats began at 7 am on Saturday amid tight security.
Polling is underway in Lakhimpur (Assam), Shahdol (Madhya Pradesh), Coochbehar and Tamluk Lok Sabha constituencies (West Bengal) along with bypolls to Assembly seats in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and Puducherry.
Bypolls assume significance as the first major ground test for the ruling BJP after demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
Lakhimpur (Assam) Bypoll
Lakhimpur Lok Sabha constituency and Baithalanso assembly constituency in Assam will decide the electoral fate of eight contestants.
The Lakhimpur Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after Sarbananda Sonowal resigned as an MP in May and took over as chief minister following BJP’s win in the Assembly polls.
Boithalangso too fell vacant with the resignation of Mansing Rongpi from Congress who joined the BJP on July 12 this year.
In Lakhimpur, the five candidates include Amiya Kumar Handique (CPI-M), Pradan Baruah (BJP), Dr. Hema Hari Prasanna Pegu (Cong), Hem Kanta Miri (SUCI-Communist) and Dilip Moran (Independent). An estimated 15,11,110 voters are expected to exercise their franchise in 1954 polling stations spread across the Assembly constituencies of Majuli (ST), Naoboicha, Lakhimpur, Dhakuakhana (ST), Dhemaji (ST), Jonai (ST), Chabua, Doomdooma, and Sadiya.
In Baithalanso (ST) - 20 three contestants are in the fray including Dr. Mansing Rongpi (BJP), Ruponsing Ronghang (Cong) and Rajen Timung (Independent), the Election office said.
Boithalangso (ST) Assembly constituency, in West Karbi Anglong district, comprised 1,80,203 voters, including 86819 women and 246 polling stations.
Shahdol and Nepanagar (Madhya Pradesh) Bypolls
According to officials, elaborate arrangements have been made for the smooth conduct of the bypolls in Shahdol Lok Sabha constituency and Nepanagar assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh.
"Total 17 candidates are in the fray for the Shahdol LS seat, while four are trying their luck for Nepanagar," an election official said. Both the seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) category.
In Shahdol, total 16,00,787 voters, whereas in Nepanagar, 2,30,420 people are expected to exercise their franchise on Saturday.
While Congress has fielded Himadri Singh, daughter of former union minister Dalbir Singh and ex-MP Rajesh Nandini Singh, from Shahdol Lok Sabha seat, the BJP has given a ticket to tribal leader Gyan Singh, a senior minister in Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's cabinet from the reserved seat. The Shahdol bypoll was necessitated due to death of BJP MP Dalpat Singh Paraste.
In Nepanagar, Congress has reposed faith in tribal leader Antar Singh Barde, while BJP fields Manju Dadu, daughter of late MLA Rajendra Shyamlal Dadu, whose death caused by an accident, necessitated the by-poll to cash in on the sympathy vote.
Besides these prominent names, several other candidates also have filed their nominations for the by-polls. Communist Party of India's Parmeshwar Singh Porte, Lok Janshakti Party's Krishna Pal Singh Pavel, Gondwana Gantantra Party's Hirasingh Markm and Apna Dal's Sajjan Singh Paraste, among others, are in the fray for the Shahdol LS seat. Besides them, total nine persons are contesting as independent candidates in Shahdol.
In Nepanagar, Republican Party of India (A) nominee Revanta and Lok Janshakti Party' Ber Singh are also trying their luck.
The counting of votes will take place on November 22 and the entire poll process will be completed by November 24.
Cooch Behar and Tamluk (West Bengal) Bypolls
Polling began amidst enthusiasm for bypolls to two Lok Sabha and one assembly seats in West Bengal at 7 am on Saturday.
An electorate of nearly 3,524,977, including 1,689,735 females and 38 from the third gender are eligible to choose their representatives from among 23 candidates vying for honours in Cooch Behar (Reserved-Scheduled Castes) and Tamluk parliamentary constituencies and Monteshwar assembly seat.
Cooch Behar has the maximum number of contestants (10), followed by Tamluk (7) and Monteshwar (6), whose fate will be decided in over 500 Electronic Voting machines spread across 4,121 polling stations.
The state's principal political parties -- the ruling Trinamool Congress, the Congress, the Left Front and the BJP -- are in fray for all three seats.
The Cooch Behar parliamentary constituency 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.
Trinamool lawmaker Sajal Panja's death caused the Monteshwar assembly by-poll. The vote count is on Tuesday.
Tamil Nadu, Puducherry by-polls
The polling for three Tamil Nadu assembly constituencies -- Thirupparankundram, Aravakkurichi and Thanjavur -- and the lone Nellithope constituency in Puducherry began at 7 am on Saturday.
In Tamil Nadu, nearly 7.54 lakh voters are expected to exercise their vote and decide the fate of 81 candidates in the fray in the three constituencies.
In Aravakkurichi, ruling AIADMK's V. Senthil Balaji will fight it out against the DMK's K.C. Palanisamy while at Thirupparankundram the AIADMK's A.K. Bose will take on the 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 contest, the contest is mainly between the AIADMK and the DMK in Tamil Nadu.
In Puducherry's Nellithope, Congress leader V. Narayanasamy is contesting against AIADMK nominee Om Shakthi Segar.
The counting of votes will be held on November 22.
Assembly bypolls are also underway in Hayuliang-ST (Arunachal Pradesh), Nepanagar-ST (Madhya Pradesh), Montestwar (West Bengal), Thiruparankundram (Tamil Nadu), Barjala and Khowai (both Tripura) and Nellithope (Puducherry).