Lucknow/Patna: Voting for bypolls to three Lok Sabha seats of Phulpur and Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh and Araria in Bihar, is set to be held on Sunday. Byelections to two assembly seats in Bihar's Jehanabad and Bhabua will also be conducted alongside. The voting, which began at 7 am, will continue till 5 in the evening.
UP is witnessing a triangular contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and the new Samajwadi Party(SP)-Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) alliance. The outcome of this bye-elections could pave the way for the SP-BSP experiment in upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
A total of 10 candidates in the fray from Gorakhpur seat, while 22 from Phulpur.
Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats were vacated by Yogi Adityanath and Keshav Prasad Maurya respectively after they were appointed as the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of the state.
Tight security arrangements have been made with nearly 6,500 personnel of central armed para-military forces deployed, apart from Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and homeguards to ensure peaceful polling. In Gorakhpur parliamentary constituency, there are 970 polling centres and 2,141 polling booths. Similarly, in Phulpur, there are 793 polling centres and 2,059 polling booths.
According to the Election Commission, there 19.61 lakh voters in Phulpur parliamentary constituency, while there are 19.49 lakh voters in Gorakhpur.
In the bypolls, as many as 4,728 VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines will also be used. VVPAT machines are used during election process to verify that the vote polled by a voter has gone to the candidate. Steps have been taken for webcasting from 95 critical booths.
The BJP has fielded Kaushalendra Singh Patel from Phulpur and Upendra Dutt Shukla from Gorakhpur against SP's Pravin Nishad and Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel respectively. Congress candidate from Gorakhpur is Sureetha Kareem and from Phulpur is Manish Mishra.
In Bihar, the chief contest is between BJP-led Democratic Alliance (NDA) and opposition Grand Alliance which consists of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress and Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) [HAM (S)].
With RJD chief Lalu Prasad behind the bars after being convicted in the fodder scam, NDA is confident of pulling out a victory.
The Araria Lok Sabha bypolls were necessitated following the death of sitting RJD lawmaker Mohammad Taslimuddin. The bypolls to Jehanabad and Bhabua assembly seats are being held following the death of sitting legislators from the RJD and the BJP, respectively.
With Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal-United (JD-U) joining the NDA back in 2017, the BJP has emerged as the main rival to Lalu Prasad`s RJD.