Araria by-election was held on March 11, Sunday, as the seat was vacated after the death of sitting RJD lawmaker Taslimuddin in September last year. A total of 57 per cent people turned up for polling in Araria. Besides this, elections were also held at two assembly seats of Bhabua and Jehanabad on the same day. The by-election contest in Araria is mainly between the ruling JD(U)-BJP and the opposition RJD-Congress. The Araria by-poll is the first electoral test for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after he walked out of the Grand Alliance between JDU, Congress and RJD last year and teamed up with the BJP. The Araria by-poll result is seen as a referendum on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's tie-up with the BJP. It is also seen as a test for Tejashwi Yadav who is leading the RJD after his father and party boss Lalu Prasad was jailed in a corruption case.
A total of seven candidates are in fray from Araria parliamentary constituency. The key candidates are RJD's Sarafaraz Alam who is Taslimuddin's son and BJP's Pradip Singh, who had won the seat in 2009 and finished runner-up in 2014. Araria by-election result will be announced on March 14, Wednesday.
The Araria parliamentary constituency consists of six assembly segments of Narpatganj, Raniganj (SC), Forbesganj, Araria, Jokhihat and Sikti. The RJD fielded Taslimuddin's son Sarfaraz Alam, eyeing a chunk of the Muslim-Yadav voters who make up more than half the electorate. BJP's Pradip Singh had finished runner-up in 2014.
The Bhabua assembly seat was vacated after the death of the BJP's Anand Bhushan Pandey. The ruling alliance has fielded his wife Rinki Rani Pandey. The Congress - which fielded Shambhu Patel - is banking on the popularity of former Lok Sabha speaker and Dalit leader Meira Kumar. Bhabua, which has a chunk of Dalit voters, is an assembly segment of Sasaram, the parliamentary constituency represented earlier by Ms Kumar. About 54.03 per cent of voters voted here.
In Jehanabad, where assembly by-elections took place due to the death of RJD lawmaker Mundrika Singh Yadav, the RJD has fielded his son Suday Yadav, also known as Kumar Krishna Mohan. He is in a direct contest with the JD(U)'s Abhiram Sharma who won the seat in 2010, when his party was an ally of the BJP. The seat saw 50.06 per cent voting.
While the NDA leaders are confident that they will win the seat, the Grand Alliance leaders have repeatedly claimed to pull out victory even in the absence of their star campaigner and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad, who is in jail.