Polling for three Lok Sabha seats and 33 assembly constituencies began across 10 states early on Saturday, once again putting the spotlight on the 'Modi wave' and whether it will sweep the elections like it did in the general elections in May.
Voting for 11 assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, nine in Gujarat, four in Rajasthan, two in West Bengal, five in the northeastern states of Assam, Tripura and Sikkim, and one each in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh has started, and the counting is scheduled for 16 September.
Lok Sabha Battle Once Again in Modi's Gujarat
Among the three Lok Sabha seats up for grabs is the Vadodara constituency, a seat which Modi relinquished for the Varanasi constituency to seal his place in the Parliament and the Prime Minister's office.
However, Modi has stayed away from campaigning for the by-polls in Vadodara, and the onus seems to be on Gujarat chief minister Anandi Patel to ensure she keeps the party's honour in the constituency where Modi's victory margin was one of the highest in the nation in May.
Another such seat that was relinquished is the Medak constituency in Telangana that now chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao vacated to take up an assembly seat in the newly carved state.
All eyes on Uttar Pradesh
However, it is in Uttar Pradesh that the battle promises to be extremely heated between the Samajwadi Party and the BJP. The pressure will be on BJP to recreate its general elections magic in the state that now President Amit Shah won credit for, and which probably earned him the top post in the party. The BJP won 71 of the total 80 Lok Sabha seats in May, in one of its first such massive victories in the state. The Samajwadi Party, on the other hand, was left red-faced with only five seats. It will face its litmus test in the Mainpuri Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh that also fell vacant after SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav chose to represent Azamgarh.
Modi Wave Still Strong?
The sweeping win for the BJP on the Lok Sabha elections in May was credited to the 'Modi wave' that won the party seats even in states where it did not have strong foothold, Uttar Pradesh in particular.
However, the last by-poll held in Bihar and three other states last month did not bode well for the party as it lost many seats to rival parties, especially the Congress, thus raising speculations if the Modi wave had waned.