Having lost Lok Sabha and Assembly bye-elections recently in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the bypolls for the two Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, especially Gorakhpur, has become a matter of prestige for the BJP. The bypolls in the two constituencies were necessitated after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated their seats in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, respectively, on taking their office.
Till 5 PM Gorakhpur recorded 43% voter turnout while Phulpur saw 37%.
Ten candidates are in the fray from Gorakhpur, while 22 candidates are contesting from Phulpur in the bypolls.
The byelections in Uttar Pradesh are significant since they mark the new alliance of the SP and the BSP which could change the complexion of politics in the state if it proves a success.
The CM claimed that even if SP, BSP and Congress come together, it won't affect BJP's victory. Phulpur, once represented by the country's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, witnessed a saffron surge in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as Maurya won there.
"On March 14, when the votes are counted, the Bua-Bhatija (Mayawati-Akhilsh Yadav) will suffer another sad jolt".
"Those who had voted for the BJP in the past are indifferent to the elections this time". Another key candidate for the seat is Shambhu Patel from Congress.
By 1pm, polling percentages in Phulpur and Gorakhpur touched 19.2 and 30.2 percent, respectively. As many as 4,728 voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines are being used in the bypoll and provisions for webcasting from 95 critical booths have been made.
In Araria, RJD's Sarfaraz Alam, son of deceased MP Taslimuddin is contesting against BJP's Pradip Singh while in Jehanabad the fight is between RJD's Suday Yadav, son of deceased MLA Mundrika Singh Yadav, and JD (U)'s Abhiram Sharma.
On the other hand, the BJP is hopeful of retaining the Bhabhua Assembly seat riding on a sympathy wave for Anand Bhushan Pandey whose death at the age of 48 necessitated the bypoll.
The RJD-Congress alliance is upbeat after a good voter turnout in Araria, Bhabua and Jehanabad and expressed confidence that the alliance candidates will win.