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Suspense continues on Lok Sabha byelections
Will the byelections be held on the vacant seats of the Lok Sabha or not? The suspense over this is deepening with each passing day. Normally, bypolls should be conducted within six months of when a seat goes vacant. In India, elections are usually under way in one or the other State throughout the year. So, the Election Commission conducts byelections along with the Assembly Elections of any other State. However, this time, five seats of the Lok Sabha are lying vacant and the EC is not conducting byelections along with Karnataka elections. Now, five MPs of the YSR Congress have resigned, taking the number of vacant seats up to 10. Yet, it doesn’t seem that byelections will be held on these seats anytime soon.
Even earlier, byelections for the LS seats were held differently. It seemed that the BJP, the ruling party at the Centre, wasn’t inclined towards holding byelections; case in point, Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats of Uttar Pradesh. Yogi Adityanath and KP Maurya were MPs from these seats, but they had been appointed as the CM and Deputy CM of the State in March 2017. This was also certain that both would become MLCs. Despite that, they didn’t resign from the Lok Sabha for six months. They resigned when the six-month tenure was about to be completed. Even after that, election was not announced immediately. For that too, the authorities waited for the stipulation of six months to be over. So, on both these seats, byelections were held after a year.
That is why it is being said that there might not be any byelections on the remaining seats. If the Opposition raises the issue of Constitutional bindings, then elections might be held on two seats only, but that too seems unlikely. The Gondia seat of Maharashtra was vacated on December 8 and almost four months have passed since. If the EC had wished, byelections would have been held along with the Karnataka polls. But no announcement has been made. The BJP MP from Palghar of Maharashtra, Chintaman Vanga, died on January 31, and Hukum Singh from Kairana died on February 4.
According to the rules, Bhandara-Gondia must go into polls before June 8, and byelections in Palghar and Kairana should be conducted before July 31 and August 4. The seat of Neiphiu Rio in Nagaland was vacated last month, and it should go into polls before September. Byelection on Anantnag seat is being deferred for the past two years. So, this is being speculated that byelections in Maharashtra and UP could be deferred, citing the fact that only a few months remain for the next General Elections.
GEARING FOR ASSEMBLY POLLS
The BJP has started fielding its MPs for the Assembly Elections, and this is one more indication that byelections on the Lok Sabha seats will not be held. Earlier, MPs usually didn’t fight Assembly Elections, and there was an unsaid rule on this. Sarbananda Sonowal had fought the Assembly polls as a CM candidate, but apart from the CM candidate, nobody had permission to do this. The BJP seems to have broken this unannounced rule in Karnataka. The party has fielded its MP, B Sriramulu, for the Assembly Elections, apart from the CM candidate BS Yeddyurappa — both of whom are MPs. In the last Assembly Elections, they had formed separate parties and contested. Sriramulu is said to be close to the Reddy brothers, and it is said that he had formed his party with their help. He had returned to the party fold just before the elections and became an MP.
If both become MLAs, and the BJP gets a majority, then they will resign from the Lok Sabha. They might resign in May, and the byelections will be due in November. But since the Lok Sabha Elections are scheduled in May, it is being said that the EC will not conduct byelections on these two seats. It is also being speculated that the BJP might give Assembly tickets to some more MPs in Karnataka. Apart from that, some MPs from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh could also fight Assembly Elections. Last time, too, Yashodhara Raje had fought the Assembly polls, leaving the Lok Sabha elections.
SELECTION OF AAP CANDIDATES
The ruling party of Delhi, the AAP, has started the selection process of its candidate for the Lok Sabha Elections, 2019. Sources say the party might change candidates who had fought the last time from seven LS seats of Delhi. Barring one or two seats, almost all candidates might be changed. Party sources say that apart from Rakhi Bidlan, no candidate is final yet.
Last time, Bidlan had fought from the only reserved constituency of Delhi and had got more than five lakh votes. She has a good standing as a woman Dalit leader of the AAP. So, it is being thought that she might contest from North-West Delhi against the BJP’s Udit Raj. But in all probability, the party will change the remaining six candidates.
The last time around, Devendra Shehrawat and Anand Kumar had also fought from the AAP, but they are not in the party now, and Raj Mohan Gandhi — who had fought from East Delhi — is aged. So, new candidates will be fielded in place of Anand Kumar, Devendra Shehrawat, and Raj Mohan Gandhi. Sources say Sandeep Pandey could be given a ticket from North-East Delhi in place of Anand Kumar. However, Gopal Rai is also in the race from this seat.
In East Delhi, Atishi Marlena — the advisor of Manish Sisodia — can be given a ticket in place of Raj Mohan Gandhi. Ashish Khetan, who had fought from New Delhi, is the chairman of the Delhi Dialogue Commission now. So, in place of him, Raghav Chadha can be given a ticket. Ashutosh, who had fought from Chandni Chowk, has a 50-50 chance this time. It is being said that he is not interested in fighting elections this time. The party has to look for new candidates in place of Jarnail Singh from West Delhi and Devendra Shehrawat from South Delhi.
CONG TO SHOW ITS STRENGTH
The Congress is organising another rally in Delhi. Probably, the party will start its mission for the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 from this very rally. Before this, the Congress had held a rally in Delhi on the farmers’ issues. Apart from this, it can hold a padyatra in Champaran as this is centenary year of Champaran Satyagraha. This should be noted that the PM held a rally at East Champaran on April 10 and the people working for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan were invited from all over India. After the Prime Minister’s visit, there is speculation that the Congress will also hold a rally there. Before the 2014 elections, Narendra Modi had held a rally at Motihari, and even Indira and Rajiv Gandhi had addressed rallies there before the beginning of their election campaign. However, if any such plan is chalked out, it will be held only after the Delhi rally, which is scheduled for April 29.
The motive behind the rally in Delhi is to show the strength of the Congress for 2019 elections. However, many leaders are raising questions over this, saying the party should focus on Karnataka elections, and believe a rally should be held in Bengaluru and not Delhi.
On the other hand, some leaders say that the effect of the Delhi rally will be felt in Karnataka. Probably, the Congress will attack the Government over a myriad of issues during this rally. The strength of the Congress leaders from Delhi and the adjacent States will also be tested during the process.
EXPANDING BASE IN SOUTH
The BJP has to expand its base in South India, and has big hopes from the States. However, what could possibly put a spanner in its works is the fact that it doesn’t have many good leaders there. That is why some people are saying that former Labour Minister, Bandaru Dattatreya, might make a comeback in the Central Government. He had been removed from the Government in the last reshuffle of the Modi Cabinet. He comes from Telangana and the BJP doesn’t have any other face apart from him in the State.
In Andhra Pradesh, Venkaiah Naidu was a known face for decades. But ever since he has become the Vice-President of India, he hasn’t been as active in politics. The BJP also has D Purandeswari in Andhra. She is the daughter of NT Rama Rao and had joined the BJP after leaving the Congress just before the last elections. However, the BJP doesn’t have anyone to give a fight to Jagan Reddy and Chandrababu Naidu. The BJP leaders are hoping that before the elections, some of the prominent leaders from the three main parties — the Congress, TDP, and YSR Congress — might join them.
In Tamil Nadu, the BJP was banking on Rajinikanth. But till date, he has not given any positive answer. A BJP leader says the party is waiting for Karnataka results. If the BJP wins, many leaders of the AIADMK might shift their loyalty. In Kerala, the BJP had sent actor Suresh Gopi to the Rajya Sabha, and now P Murlidharan has been sent to the RS, but the BJP’s search has not yet ended.
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