Bypolls across the country could throw up significant political indicators ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Gujjar leader Hukum Singh’s daughter Mriganka is BJP candidate against Tabassum Hasan of RLD, who is backed by SP. Two political currents will be in play: Jat-Gujjar rivalry and Jat-Muslim tensions. After setbacks in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, a fresh test for Modi and Yogi.
Lone LS seat fell vacant after Neiphiu Rio became CM; his People’s Democratic Alliance, which includes BJP, has fielded Tokheho Yepthomi; Naga People’s Front candidate is C Apok Jamir, who is supported by Congress. Northeast voters tend to go with whoever is in power at the Centre.
Fight in Adivasi-dominated constituency is between BJP and Shiv Sena. Sena has fielded Shriniwas Wanga, son of late BJP MP Chintaman Wanga; BJP has fielded Rajendra Gavit, who defected from Congress. Recent events in Karnataka have boosted anti-BJP forces in neighbouring Maharashtra, who will gain momentum if the result is against the BJP.
Seat fell vacant after BJP’s Nana Patole resigned and joined Congress. Direct fight between NCP’s Madhukar Kukde and BJP’s Hemant Patle. Kukde’s prospects have been hit by NCP Rajya Sabha MP Praful Patel’s statement that Kukde would not be nominated for Lok Sabha 2019. —REPORTING: PRADEEP KAUSHAL
How humans throw their weight around life
A comprehensive new study of the Earth’s biomass, published in the journal PNAS, has found that humans account for only 0.01% of the weight of all life on the planet, but have had a huge impact on biomass since the beginning of civilisation. The census, which measures life in terms of carbon content, finds that plants make up about 80% of all life at 450 gigatonnes carbon (Gt C) out of 550 Gt C. Animals make up only 2 Gt C, below bacteria (70) and fungi (12). Half the animals are arthropods (insects, spiders, crabs etc). At 0.06 Gt C, humans account for less than fish (0.7) and even viruses (0.2), but humans and their livestock (0.1) account for more biomass than wild mammals (0.007) and wild birds (0.002). While the total biomass of wild mammals decreased by a factor of six, the total mass of mammals increased approximately fourfold due to the vast increase of the biomass of humanity and its associated livestock.