The joint opposition, which includes Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party, hopes that by consolidating anti-BJP votes, they will repeat the success of the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha by-elections, where the BJP suffered an unexpected defeat.
In Mahrashtra's Palghar and Bhandara-Gondiya, all four major parties -- the BJP, Shiv Sena, Sharad Pawar's NCP, and Congress -- have campaigned aggressively for the Lok Sabha by-elections. The outcome is significant as it is likely to have a bearing on their future course. The Shiv Sena fielded late BJP MP Chintaman Wanaga's son Shriniwas Wanaga in Palghar, much to the dislike of the BJP which has in-turn nominated Rajendra Gavit, who switched over from the Congress. In Bhandra-Gondia, Nana Patole quit as the BJP MP and resigned from the ruling party to return to the Congress earlier this year, necessitating the by-election. The ruling BJP has locked horns with the NCP for retaining the Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha seat while in Palghar, it is in a direct fight with the ally Shiv Sena even though the contest is multi-cornered.
The counting of votes for both Lok Sabha and Assembly by-elections will take place on May 31.
Here are the highlights of the Lok Sabha and assembly by-elections across 10 states:
The West Bengal assembly by-election was necessitated following the death of sitting MLA Kasturi Das.
Bengal's Maheshtala assembly constituency is witnessing a three-front contest between the Trinamool Congress, BJP and Left Front.
The TMC has fielded Dulal Das, the husband of the deceased MLA, while the BJP, which is trying to emerge as the main challenger to the Trinamool Congress, has nominated Sujit Ghosh, a former joint director of the CBI.
The Left, on the other hand, has fielded Prabhat Chowdhury, a relatively greenhorn in the fray. The Congress is backing Mr Chowdhury.
2,48,855 voters are expected to cast their vote in 283 booths, he added.
According to the Election Commission, till 11 am, Kairana recorded 21.34 per cent voter turnout, while the voting percentage in Noorpur Assembly constituency was 22 per cent.
The Kairana bypoll is signifcant as it would test the popularity of the ruling BJP in the state. The by-election was necessitated following the death of BJP MP Hukum Singh in February. His daughter Mriganka Singh is the BJP candidate, pitted against Rashtriya Lok Dal's Tabassum Hasan (BSP MP from Kairana in 2009) who is also supported by the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and also claims the support of the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Kairana parliamentary constituency has five assembly segments -- Shamli, Thana Bhawan and Kairana in Shamli district, and Gangoh and Nakur in Saharanpur district.
The by-election to Noorpur Assembly seat was necessitated by the death of sitting BJP MLA Lokendra Singh Chauhan in a road accident in February. In Noorpur, the BJP announced the name of Avani Singh, wife of late MLA Lokendra Chauhan, as its candidate. The Samajwadi Party has fielded Naeemul Hasan as its candidate.
According to the Election Commission, there are 16.09 lakh voters in Kairana. This includes 8.73 lakh male voters and 7.36 lakh female voters. Noorpur Assembly constituency has 3.06 lakh voters.
In Kairana, there are 12 candidates in contesting, while from Noorpur there are 10 candidates competing. There are 2,056 polling booths. Opposition Samajwadi Party and RLD have complained of snags in EVM machines. "Getting reports of problems in EVMs in the by election but still voters should go for casting votes), Akhilesh Yadav said in a tweet.
The bypolls to Silli Assembly seat in Ranchi district and Gomia Assembly seat in Bokaro district were being held amidst tight security arrangements and no incidents of violence have been reported so far.
The by-elections to Gomia and Silli Assembly seats were necessitated following the conviction of Yogendra Mahto (Gomia) and Amit Mahto (Silli). Both were elected on Jharkhand Mukti Morcha or JMM tickets in the 2014 Assembly election.
In the Gomia Assembly seat, though there are 13 candidates, the main contest is between BJP's Madhavlal Singh, All Jharkhand Students Union's (AJSU's) Lambodar Mahto and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha's Babita Devi, wife of disqualified MLA Yogendra Mahto.
In Silli, of the ten candidates contesting, the main contest will be between the former deputy chief minister and AJSU president Sudesh Mahto and Seema Mahto, wife of disqualified MLA Amit Mahto.
Tweeting about the reported malfunctioning of EVMs, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav wrote, "Upchunav mein jagah jagah se EVM kharab hone ki khabrein aa rahi hain, lekin phir bhi apne matadhikar ke liye zaroor jayen aur apna kartavya nibhayan." It loosely translates to "Hearing reports of problems in EVMs in the by-election, but voters should still go out and vote".
Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary claimed that 140 EVMs were tampered with in Noorpur and that similar reports have come in from Kairana. "BJP wants to avenge their defeat in the earlier bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur anyhow and win the ongoing polls," he alleged.
Rashtriya Lok Dal spokesman Anil Dubey echoed the Samajwadi Party's claims. He said there were reports of EVM malfunctioning in both the constituencies, especially areas dominated by the RLD-Samajwadi Party combine.
"We (RLD and Samajwadi Party) are going to meet the chief electoral officer to lodge a formal complaint in this regard," Mr Dubey added.
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio cast his vote at a polling booth at Touphema Basa village, around 25 km from the state capital Kohima, at around 10 am.
The ruling People's Democratic Alliance or PDA, which has the NDPP (Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party) and the BJP as it major constituents, has fielded former minister Tokheho Yepthomi from the seat. Mr Yepthomi is contesting against Opposition Naga People's Front (NPF) nominee C Apok Jamir. The Congress has also extended its support to Mr Jamir.
11,97,436 people are eligible to cast their vote at 2196 polling stations across the state, Nagaland Chief Electoral Officer Abhijit Sinha said.
Voting began at 7 am and will go on till 4 pm in 1887 polling stations, while it will end an hour ahead in 309 booths, the CEO said. "In 309 booths, set up in faraway places with barely any transportation facilities, the polling will end at 3 PM for the convenience of the election officials," he said.
40 companies of Central Armed Police Forces along with 80 companies of Nagaland Armed Police, 770 Home Guards and 2600 village guards have been deployed across the state to ensure free and fair elections, Mr Sinha added.
The Nagaland bypoll was necessitated after Neiphiu Rio, who is also the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) leader, resigned as a Lok Sabha member in February, days before the assembly elections, after which he became Chief Minister.
(Inputs from PTI)
The Jokihat by-election is being viewed as a test of strength between Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) and RJD's of Lalu Prasad. 2.70 lakh voters are eligible to cast their vote to decide the fate of nine candidates contesting from this seat in Bihar's Araria district.
Having won the seat in 2015 on a JD(U) ticket, Sarfaraz Alam switched over to the RJD in March this year and got elected to the Lok Sabha from Araria in a bypoll which was necessitated by the death of his father Mohammad Taslimuddin.
Mr Taslimuddin had himself represented Jokihat in the Bihar assembly for a record five times. His younger son Shahnawaz Alam has been fielded by the RJD while the JD(U) candidate is Murshid Alam, a former Panchayat Mukhiya.
Although the contest is primarily between these two candidates, six Independents, besides Ghousul Azam - who represents controversial Madhepura MP Pappu Yadav's fledgling outfit Jan Adhikar Party - are also contesting.
(Inputs from PTI)
BJP is a part of Neiphiu Rio's People's Democratic Alliance (PDA) which has fielded Tokheho Yepthomi as its candidate. On the other hand, the Naga People's Front has fielded C Apok Jamir, who is supported by the Congress.
PDA-BJP may have an upper hand as there is no anti-incumbency against either party or even the chief minister. The trend in the northeast too has generally been to vote for the party in power in the centre.
21.34 per cent voting recorded till 11 am in UP's Kairana Lok Sabha by-election
I've been continuously receiving complaints. They didn't expect so many ppl to come out to vote in Ramzan.Initial strategy was to hold elections in Ramzan so that ppl won't vote: Tabassum Hasan, RLD candidate for #Kairana Lok Sabha seat after writing to EC over faulty EVMs&VVPATs pic.twitter.com/0JjnN4LMrC- ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) May 28, 2018
31 per cent voting recorded till 11 am in Punjab's Shahkot assembly by-election.
The ruling Congress has fielded Hardev Singh Laddi while Akali Dal has given a ticket to Ajit Singh Kohar's son Naib Singh Kohar. The Aam Aadmi Party has nominated Rattan Singh Kakkar Kalan for the Shahkot bypoll.
As many as 1,72,676 voters will decide the fate of 12 candidates who are contesting. Voters including women could be seen standing in queues at various polling booths in the morning for voting.
The Election Commission has deployed a total of 1,022 security forces personnel, including six companies of the Border Security Force, in Shahkot, official said.
Voting began at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm today. A holiday had already been declared for the electors of Shahkot Assembly constituency which falls in Jalandhar district.
There are total 236 polling stations in the constituency, out of which, webcasting will be held at 103 stations. Electronic Voting Machines and Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) are being used at all the polling stations while 15 per cent additional EVMs and VVPAT have been kept as reserve if some malfunctioning is developed during polling.
There are reports that in #Noorpur 140 EVMs are faulty, which is because they've been tampered, there are similar reports from #Kairana. They (BJP) want to avenge defeat in Phulpur & Gorakhpur, which is why they want to defeat us at any cost : Rajendra Chaudhary, Samajwadi Party pic.twitter.com/0FqfZEG8vl- ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) May 28, 2018
#Palghar Lok Sabha by-poll: Instead of index fingers, middle fingers of some voters are being inked by officials to differentiate between them, as Panchayat elections were held in some parts of Palghar yesterday. #Maharashtrapic.twitter.com/hbTK1wvLpL- ANI (@ANI) May 28, 2018
Tabassum Hasan, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate for #Kairana Lok Sabha by-poll, casts her vote; says, 'machines are being tampered everywhere, faulty machines haven't been replaced in Muslim&Dalit dominated areas. They (BJP) think they can win polls like this.That won't happen' pic.twitter.com/1jyBDTmtKZ- ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) May 28, 2018
Just before the nominations were filed, the seat saw crossing over of leaders from one party to the other. Chintaman Wanga's son Shriniwas Wanga crossed over from BJP to Shiv Sena, while Rajendra Gavit of the Congress joined to the BJP.
In the run up to the election, the BJP and Shiv Sena accused each other of "betrayal".
The Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) led by Vasai-Virar candidate Hitendra Thakur is also contesting with the nomination of its ex-MP Baliram Jadhav.
Kiran Raja Gahla of the CPI-M, which has a base in Talasari and Dahanu, and former MP Damu Shingada (Congress) are also contesting in a multi-cornered fight from the seat reserved for scheduled tribes (ST).
An editorial in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana had claimed its nominee will win the Palghar seat, despite the BJP roping in UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in the poll campaign.
The constituency includes extended suburbs of Mumbai such as Vasai, Virar, Nalasopara, and Palghar in the newly-created Palghar district.
In Palghar, out of the 2,097 polling booths, 14 are listed as critical.
Uttarakhand: Voting in Tharali assembly constituency has been halted after an Electronic Voting Machine or EVM has malfunctioned. Polling agents of all political parties have asked Election Commission officials to provide a new EVM.
The Kairana bypoll has become a direct contest between Mriganka Singh and Rashtriya Lok Dal's (RLD) Tabassum Hasan. The opposition's campaign received a boost after an independent candidate dropped out of the race on May 24.
Independent candidate Kanwar Hasan dropped out of the race and announced that he was backing 48-year-old Tabassum Hasan of the RLD, who is also backed by a united opposition including Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, Mayawati's BSP, Congress and Nishad Party.
The opposition is eyeing the chunk of Jat voters, who have traditionally voted for Ajit Singh's RLD but had drifted to the BJP in 2014. RLD candidate Tabassum Hassan had earlier won from Kairana in 2009 on a BSP ticket by defeating Hukum Singh. This time, she takes on his daughter. For RLD president Ajit Singh and his son and vice-president of the party, Jayant Chowdhury, the Kairana by-election presents the opportunity to reclaim their core supporters of Jats, the dominant agrarian caste of Western UP, which shifted loyalties to the BJP in the general election after tensions between Hindus and Muslims in areas like Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in 2013.
Located around 630 km from Lucknow, the Kairana Lok Sabha constituency has five assembly segments namely Shamli, Thana Bhawan and Kairana in Shamli district; and Gangoh and Nakur in Saharanpur district.
At least five state ministers had campaigned for BJP candidate in Kairana. They include Dharam Singh Saini (minister of state for Ayush), Suresh Rana (sugarcane development minister), Anupama Jaiswal (basic education minister) Surya Pratap Shahi (agriculture minister) and Laxmi Narayan (religious affairs, culture, minority welfare, waqf and Haj minister).
When Hukum Singh of the BJP won Kairana, his victory margin in 2014 of 2.30 lakh votes was more than the combined votes of the SP, BSP and RLD. He won by a stunning vote share of over 50 per cent. Mr Singh had managed a whopping 50.54 per cent of the votes in 2014. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Hukum Singh had bagged 5,65,909 votes and defeated Nahid Hasan of the Samajwadi Party who got 3,29,081 votes. But the Kairana seat fell vacant after his death in February this year.
Now Hukum Singh's daughter Mriganka Singh is contesting from the seat. Apart from the BJP's traditional upper caste Hindu vote, Mriganka Singh also has the loyalty of members of her own caste, Kairana's 1.4 lakh Hindu Gujjars.
The Kairana Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after the death of BJP lawmaker Hukum Singh. His daughter Mriganka Singh is contesting as the BJP candidate against the wife of a politician who represented the seat earlier. Begum Tabassum Hasan, contesting on a Rashtriya Lok Dal ticket, is backed by a united opposition including Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, Mayawati's BSP, and the Congress.
Hukum Singh's daughter Mriganka Singh is taking on Tabassum Hasan who has been propped as the candidate to oppose the BJP. Tabassum Hasan was earlier with Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party, then moved to the Samajwadi Party before joining Ajit Singh's RLD. Her late husband Munnawar Hasan has represented the seat earlier.
Out of the 16 lakh voters in Kairana, nearly a third of them are Muslims. The opposition has gone all out to recreate its successes in the bypolls to Gorakhpur and Phulpur, seats earlier held by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya. The opposition is also eyeing the chunk of Jat voters, who have traditionally voted for Ajit Singh's RLD but had drifted to the BJP in 2014.
Faced with the opposition onslaught, the BJP is keen on keeping the seat that Hukum Singh won with over 50 per cent of the vote share. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, his deputy and some of the top ministers have campaigned relentlessly. On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a public meeting close to the Kairana constituency while inaugurating an expressway and spoke of issues concerning sugarcane farmers and law and order that the opposition alleges is a breach of the model code of conduct.