Voting for bypolls in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh underway

LUCKNOW/PATNA: Voting for the byelections to three seats in Bihar, Araria Lok Sabha constituency and Bhabua and Jehanabad assembly constituencies and two Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats underway in amid tight security on Sunday.

The result for both the states would be declared on March 14.

The bypolls in Araria in Bihar were necessitated following the death of sitting RJD MP Mohammad Taslimuddin last year. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has fielded Taslimuddin’s son Sarfaraz Alam, who quit Janata Dal (United) to contest the seat on RJD ticket. Sarfaraz Alam was JD (U) MLA from Jokihat Assembly segment of the constituency. The BJP has fielded Pradeep Kumar Singh from the seat, who lost the seat to Taslimuddin in 2014 by over 1.46 lakh votes.

From Bhabua Assembly seat in Bihar, the BJP has fielded Rinki Pandey, widow of sitting BJP MLA Anand Bhusan Pandey, whose death necessitated the bypolls. Pandey is in direct contest with Shambhu Singh Patel of Congress party.

The Janata Dal (United) has fielded its lone candidate from Jehanabad. Abhiram Sharma of JD(U) is pitted against Sujay Yadav of RJD in Jehanabad Assembly constituency of Bihar. Sujay is the son of former minister from RJD Mundrika Singh Yadav.

The byelections on three seats are being seen as a popularity test for Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, as this is the first election since he broke away from RJD-Congress alliance and tied up with the BJP-led NDA.

In Uttar Pradesh

The bypolls on the two Lok Sabha seats were necessitated after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated the Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats respectively, following their election to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council.

The bypolls on the two seats are being termed by Chief Minister Adityanath as a rehearsal for the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The bypolls are witnessing a triangular contest involving the ruling BJP, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress.

From Phulpur, the BJP has pitted Kaushalendra Singh Patel and Upendra Dutt Shukla from Gorakhpur against the SP’s Pravin Nishad and Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel respectively. The Congress has fielded Sureetha Kareem for Gorakhpur and Manish Mishra for Phulpur Lok Sabha seat.

A total of ten candidates are in the fray from Gorakhpur, while 22 candidates are in the arena from Phulpur.

Apart from the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and homeguards, 65 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed to ensure peaceful bypolls in Uttar Pradesh.

According to the Election Commission of India, there 19.61 lakh voters in Phulpur parliamentary constituency, while there are 19.49 lakh electorate for Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat.

Gorakhpur is important for the saffron party as it has been the bastion of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who represented the seat in the Lok Sabha five times from the constituency.

Phulpur, once represented by first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, witnessed a saffron surge in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and Maurya won from the seat.