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Voting underway for bypolls to 33 Assembly, 3 Lok Sabha seats in 10 states

New Delhi: Voting began Saturday for byelections to 3 Lok Sabha and 33 Assembly constituencies spread across 10 states in an exercise seen as yet another major test of Narendra Modi government's popularity since it assumed power in May.

The three Lok Sabha bypolls are in Vadodara (Gujarat), Mainpuri (Uttar Pradesh) and Medak (Telangana) while 11 Assembly constituencies are in UP, nine in Gujarat, four in Rajasthan, two in West Bengal, five in Northeastern states and one each in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

Counting of votes is scheduled for September 16.

Voting starts in Uttar Pradesh

Voters began to queue up at polling stations for the by-poll in Uttar Pradesh's one Lok Sabha and 11 Assembly constituencies.

The state's ruling Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are the main contenders in most of the Assembly seats and the lone Lok Sabha seat.

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 while Trinamool Congress battles to retain two assembly seats in West Bengal in the face of Saradha chit fund scam that has already ensnared some of its leaders.

If retaining Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat, vacated by SP supremo Mualayam Singh Yadav who had won from two LS seats including Azamgarh, is a matter of prestige for his party, BJP faces the challenge of holding on to the 11 assembly seats won earlier by the 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.

SP is going all out to retain Mainpuri where the bypoll would mark the launch of Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, the gennext of the extended of Mulayam Singh Yadav family. Tej is the grandson of SP chief's elder brother. The challenge for SP is not just to win the seat again but also to maintain the big margin with which Mulayama had romped home.

In Mainpuri, BSP and Congress have not fielded their candidates, leaving a straight contest between Tej Pratap Singh and BJP's Shiv Singh Shakya.

BSP, which drew a blank in Lok Sabha polls, is not contesting the byelections.

The 11 Assembly seats in UP, whose outcome may be a pointer to which way the political wind is blowing in the run up to 2017 assembly polls, are Saharanpur Nagar, Noida, Thakurdwara, Bijnor, Nighasan, Balha, Sirathu, Rohaniya, Hamirpur, Charkhari and Lucknow East. All of these were vacated by BJP MLAs who won the Lok Sabha elections.

Aandiben faces first test in Gujarat bypolls

In Gujarat, Narendra Modi's successor as chief minister in Gujarat, Anandiben Patel, faces her first big test when by-elections are held for Vadodara LS seat and in nine Assembly constituencies.

The nine Assembly seats that are going to polls are Maninagar, Anand, Limkheda, Deesa, Matar, Talaja, Tankara, Khambhalia and Mangrol.

Vadodara is the lone Lok Sabha seat going for by-polls in Gujarat, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi vacated this seat after winning with huge margin.

Voting starts in Telangana, Andhra

The Medak Lok Sabha constituency in Telangana and the Nandigama Assembly seat in Andhra Pradesh went to polls from 7 am on Saturday.

The polling in both the constituencies will continue till 6 pm.

Over 15.43 lakh voters are eligible to cast their franchise in the prestigious Medak parliamentary constituency, which was once represented by late prime minister Indira Gandhi.

A total of 14 candidates are in fray in Medak but it is mainly a triangular contest.

West Bengal: Voting for Chowringhee, Basirhat Assembly seats begin

Voting for the Chowringhee and Basirhat (South) Assembly constituencies in West Bengal began at 7 am on Saturday.

Chowringhee in Kolkata was won by Trinamool's Sikha Mitra in 2011 Assembly polls, where the party fought jointly with the Congress.

The 200,256 electors spread across 222 polling stations have to choose from nine candidates - Trinamool's Nayna Bandyopadhyay, BJP's Ritesh Tiwari, Congress' Santosh K. Pathak, CPI-M's Faiyaz Ahmad Khan and five independents.

The Basirhat (South) constituency is a seat newly carved out in 2011. Nearly 235,843 people are eligible to vote in 286 polling stations.

Polling begins for bypoll in Raipur

Amid tight security, voting began in the insurgency-hit Antagarh assembly constituency for the bypoll where only two candidates, including one from the ruling BJP, are in the fray in the tribal-dominated seat.

"The polling has begun in Antagarh seat from 7 am," an election official said.

As many as 1,51,894 electorates would exercise their franchise at 202 polling stations, including 190 hyper sensitive and three auxiliary booths, till 3 pm, he said.

Around 10,000 security personnel have been deployed in the region to ensure fair and peaceful polling, he added.

It is for the first time since its formation, that Chhattisgarh will not witness any contest between the BJP and the Congress in the Assembly poll as the main opposition's? candidate surprisingly withdrew from the contest at the last moment.

Polling begins for bypolls in Rajasthan

Amid tight security arrangements, polling began today for the bypolls to the four assembly constituencies in Rajasthan.

Twenty-three candidates including four each from the ruling BJP and opposition Congress are in the fray in Nasirabad (Ajmer), Weir (Bharatpur), Surajgarh (Jhunjhunu) and Kota South constituencies where 950 polling stations have been set up.

"The polling began in all the constituencies at 7 am," an election department official said.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair polling.

Paramilitary forces, companies of Rajasthan Armed Constabulary and 6,000 policemen have been deployed in all the four constituencies, according to Special DGP (Law and Order) Navdeep Singh.

Polling starts in Assam

Ballotting began Saturday for by-elections in Assam’s three Assembly constituencies - Silchar, Lakhipur and Jamunamukh, officials said.

By-election for Silchar was necessitated after Congress legislator Sushmita Dev’s election to the Lok Sabha. -zeenews

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