New Delhi: Moderate to high turnout today marked the byelections held in 3 Lok Sabha and 33 assembly constituencies spread across ten states in an exercise seen as yet another key test of Narendra Modi government's popularity since it assumed power in May.
The polling in the three LS constituencies--Vadodara (Gujarat), Mainpuri (Uttar Pradesh), where Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, the nextgen of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's extended family is making his debut, and Medak (Telangana) where BJP is locked in a straight fight with ruling TRS--was recorded at 49, 56 and 67 per cent respectively.
While the turnout was 53 per cent in the 11 assembly constituencies in UP, where BJP and its ally Apna Dal are hoping to retain all of them, the nine assembly seats in Gujarat, where the bypoll is considered as much a challenge for Anandien Patel, Modi's successor as chief minister, saw 49 per cent polling.
Four assembly seats in Rajasthan saw a voting figure of 66 per cent while contrasting turnout was recorded in Basirhat Dakshin and Chowringhee in West Bengal, where ruling Saradha scam-singed Trinamool Congress is seeking to retain the two seats, with 79.59 and 47.13 per cent respectively.
50 per cent voting was witnessed in Antagarh assembly segment in Maoist-hit Kanker district of Chhattisgarh while the three assembly constituencies in Assam, where ruling Congress is looking to recover some ground after the Lok Sabha poll setbacks, recorded 70 per cent polling and over 87 per cent was the turnout in Tripura's Manu seat.
68 per cent turnout was registered in Nandigama assembly seat in Andhra Pradesh where ruling TDP is pitted against Congress.
Counting of votes is scheduled for September 16. Stakes are high for BJP, Congress, Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh after the saffron party's near-total sweep of the 80 seats in Lok Sabha polls just four months ago.
Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat, vacated by Mulayam Singh Yadav who had won from two LS seats including Azamgarh, is a matter of prestige for his party, BJP chief Amit Shah also faces the challenge in the bypolls in UP as he is considered the main strategist behind the party's stupendous success in last Lok Sabha poll. In Mainpuri, BSP and Congress have not fielded their candidates, leaving a straight contest between Tej Pratap Singh and BJP's Shiv Singh Shakya. While BSP, which drew a blank in Lok Sabha polls, is not contesting the byelections in UP, Congress and SP have fielded candidates in all the 11 assembly seats and BJP is contesting in 10 and its ally Apna Dal in one. The outcome of the 11 bypolls in UP could be a pointer to which way the political wind is blowing in the run up to 2017 assembly polls.