Gorakhpur/Patna: Voting for bypolls to three Lok Sabha seats -- Phulpur and Gorakpur in Uttar Pradesh and Araria in Bihar – was held on Sunday.
Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency witnessed a polling percentage of 43 per cent while Phulpur saw a turnout of 37.39 per cent till 5 pm, Election Commission sources said.
57 per cent polling was recorded in the by-election to the Araria Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar.
Byelections in Uttar Pradesh, necessitated after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated their seats in Gorakhpur and Phulpur constituency, respectively, on taking office, are being seen as a prestige battle for the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). It will also test the recently formed electoral arrangement between the two arch-rivals -- Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP). The two parties have come together in Phulpur and Gorakhpur for the first time after 1991 to take on the BJP.
After casting his vote in Gorakhpur, Adityanath said the BJP was getting widespread support from the people.
“The people know that development was the only panacea,” he told reporters.
Attacking the BSP and the SP, the chief minister said, “These parties are indulging in negative politics, politics of bargaining and politics of opportunism. The state has suffered the negative consequences (of SP and BSP).
"And in order to ensure that in future such situations do not arise, efforts have to be made to shun politics of casteism and dynastic politics, and focus on development and administration," he said.
When asked to comment on the SP and BSP entering an electoral understanding, he said, “This will have no effect. I had wanted that in this by-election if the SP, BSP and Congress had fought together, then results would have been much better (for us).”
Termed by Adityanath a “rehearsal” for the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the by-elections are witnessing a triangular contest involving the ruling BJP, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress.
In Bihar, voting is being held for Araria Lok Sabha seat and two assembly segments -- Jehanabad and Bhabua.
In Araria, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress is pitted against the BJP-Janata Dal (United) alliance and it’s the first big test for Nitish Kumar after he walked out of the Grand Alliance last year to team up with the BJP.
The BSP is supporting the SP candidates in the two Lok Sabha seats while Congress, which contested the 2017 assembly poll with Samajwadi Party, had fielded its own candidates.
Upendra Shukla from the BJP, Praveen Nishad from the SP and Surhita Chatterjee Karim from Congress are key contenders from Gorakhpur.
Meanwhile for the Phulpur seat are Kaushalendra Singh Patel from the BJP, Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel from SP and Manish Mishra from Congress are in the fray. Mafia-turned-politician Atiq Ahmad, who won from Phulpur in 2004, is contesting as an Independent.
For the BJP, the election is a prestige issue for chief minister Yogi Adityanath who represented the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat five times in a row till he took over as chief minister in 2017.
Phulpur, a seat earlier represented by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was won for the first time by the BJP in 2014 when Keshav Prasad Maurya, a former mayor of Varanasi, won the seat with a margin of 3.76 lakh votes.
Both the leaders have campaigned extensively in their erstwhile Lok Sabha constituencies while Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav held the fort for the opposition.
The bypolls in Bihar are being seen as a litmus test for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after he pulled out of the state's Grand Alliance and joined the BJP.
The Araria seat fell vacant after the death of RJD MP Mohammad Taslimuddin. RJD's Sarafaraz Alam, Taslimuddin's son, and the BJP's Pradip Singh are the key contenders for the seat.
The Bhabua assembly seat, where bypoll was necessitated after the death of BJP's Anand Bhushan Pandey, the party has fielded his widow Rinki Rani Pandey. Another key candidate for the seat is Shambhu Patel from Congress.
The death of RJD MLA Mundrika Singh Yadav necessitated the bypoll for Jehanabad seat, and his son Uday Yadav is contesting for the seat. Another key candidate in the fray is JDU's Abhiram Sharma.
The results of the bypolls will be announced on March 14.
(With PTI inputs)...