NEW DELHI, Oct 17 - Byelections to Lakhimpur Lok Sabha constituency and Baithalangso (ST) Assembly seat will be held on November 19. The Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal resigned as Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs.
The Election Commission of India on Monday announced the schedule for byelections to fill casual vacancies in the Lok Sabha from Parliamentary constituencies of Assam, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and the State Legislative Assembly constituencies of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Tripura.
The Model Code of Conduct shall come into force with immediate effect in the district(s) in which the whole or any part of the Parliamentary constituency/Assembly constituencies going for byelections is included, subject to partial modification. The Model Code of Conduct shall be applicable to all candidates, political parties and the state governments concerned. It will also be applicable to the Union Government for the states concerned.
The poll panel has decided that the voter�s identification shall be mandatory in the by elections at the time of poll. Electoral photo identity cards shall be the main document of identification of a voter. However, in order to ensure that no voter is deprived of his/her franchise, if his/her name figures in the electoral rolls, separate instructions will be issued to allow additional documents for identification of voters at the time of poll in the said byelections.
While the polls were formally announced on Monday, the process of seeking applications from interested candidates had already began, with several aspirants in both the BJP and Congress submitting their applications.
The byelections in Lakhimpur will be an acid test for the BJP as it will be seeking to retain the seat. However, the saffron party is yet to decide whether to field a new face or bet on an old warhorse. Key aspirants vying for the seat include Jagadish Dutta, a former AASU leader and Pradan Baruah, a BJP MLA.
On the other hand, the Congress is desperate to put its house in order under new PCC president Ripun Bora. The party is likely to harp on the Narendra Modi Government�s failure, rise in prices of essential commodities and closer home, the withdrawal of the special category status and the 90:10 funding pattern scheme and lukewarm response to the State Government�s appeal for additional funds in the aftermath of the recent devastating floods.
The party has already received application from nine aspirants and former Congress minister Rajib Lochan Pegu, who belongs to the Mising community, is considered a strong contender.
Mansingh Rongpi, who was with the Congress, resigned on July 15 from the party and his Assembly seat and later joined the BJP. Rongpi had won from Baithalangso constituency in Karbi Anglong hill district in the election by defeating his nearest BJP rival with a margin of over 8,000 votes.
With his resignation, the strength of the Congress has reduced to 25 MLAs in the 126-member Assam Assembly.