In contests symbolic of the fierce turf war between the BJP and regional parties, seven assembly constituencies in six states will elect new legislators in bypolls on Thursday, with Telangana and Bihar hosting two of the more closely watched clashes. Telangana has been primed for a high-stakes battle between the BJP and Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s party TRS following allegations by the latter of attempts to poach its MLAs with eye-popping amounts of cash.
Bihar will see the first electoral test for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s latest “Grand Alliance”, formed less than three months ago after his party ditched the BJP and partnered with Tejashwi Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress. Bypolls in the state are being held in Mokama and Gopalganj, earlier held by the RJD and the BJP respectively. In a prestige battle, the BJP will hope to retain the Gola Gorakhnath seat in Uttar Pradesh, which fell vacant after the death of MLA Arvind Giri. With Mayawati’s party BSP and the Congress staying out of the contest, the fight will be between the BJP and Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party.
While these by-elections are not expected to have any bearing on who governs the states, most parties have gone all-in on the campaigning to avoid a defeat in the prestige battles. The results of the elections are set to be announced on Sunday.