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Campaigning for bypolls to nine assembly seats in Assam, Meghalaya, and Mizoram ended on October 27.

In Assam, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is contesting in three of the state’s five seats and all its three candidates are turncoats – two from the Congress and one from the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).

BJP has fielded Phanidhar Talukdar in Bhabanipur, Rupjyoti Kurmi in Mariani and Sushanta Borgohain in Thowra, while its ally United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) has nominated Jiron Basumatary and Jolen Daimary in Gossaigaon and Tamulpur, respectively.

The main opposition Congress, which bagged 29 seats in the March-April assembly polls and fielded candidates in all the five seats, has been trying hard at least to retain Thowra and Mariani where it won in the last polls.

The AIUDF has fielded candidates in Bhabanipur and Gossaigaon, Akhil Gogoi-led Raijor Dal is contesting in Thowra and Mariani while Hagrama Mahilary-led Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF) is contesting in Gossaigaon.

The AIUDF and the BPF were partners of the Congress-led 10-party ‘Mahajot’ (grand alliance) in the March-April assembly polls.

According to the Election Commission, a total of 31 candidates are contesting in the byelections to the five assembly constituencies.

The byelections were necessitated due to COVID-related deaths of two sitting MLAs belonging to the UPPL and the BPF while two Congress (Kurmi and Borgohain) and one AIUDF legislators (Talukdar) joined the BJP after quitting their assembly membership.

Political pundits are saying that the October 30 byelections to five assembly seats in Assam will be a litmus test for both the ruling party and the state government led by chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

In Nagaland, a bypoll was to take place in Shamator-Chessore assembly seat but ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) candidate S Keoshu Yimchunger, who was the consensus nominee of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), an all-party coalition formed on September 18 to run an opposition-less government in the Northeast state, has been elected unopposed as he was the lone nominee in the tribal reserved seat.

In Meghalaya, NDA constituent, National People’s Party (NPP) and the Congress have fielded candidates in all the three seats, and the BJP, which is a constituent of the NPP-dominated Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA), has fielded candidate in one for the bypolls.

Another junior member of the ruling MDA, the United Democratic Party (UDP) also fielded candidate in Mawphlang causing likely division of votes among the ruling partners and offering electoral benefit to the “divided” Congress.

In Mawryngkneng, however, the UDP is supporting the NPP candidate in other seats.

The Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), another member of the MDA, is supporting the UDP candidates in Mawphlang and Rajabala.

In all, 13 candidates, including nominees of the local parties, have entered the fray.

Five candidates each are contesting from Mawryngkneng and Rajabala bypolls, while three aspirants are in the race in Mawphlang.

In Mizoram, bypoll will be held to the Tuirial assembly seat, necessitated by the death of sitting Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) legislator Andrew H Thangliana, and four candidates in the fray. They are K Laldawngliana of the ruling Mizo National Front, Laltlanmawia of the ZPM, Chalrosanga Ralte of the Congress and the BJP’s K Laldinthara.

Counting of votes will take place on November 2.

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