It is a tough fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party -led National Democratic Alliance and the opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh. In both the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha byelections, it is the Samajwadi Party had is marching ahead with the BJP candidates are trailing. The seats were vacated by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Yogi Adityanath and Keshav Prasad Maurya, who were elevated as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister respectively after the party victory in state Assembly elections.
Forty three per cent voters cast their mandate in the Gorakhpur parliamentary constituency on March 11 while Phulpur recorded an even lesser 37.39 per cent turnout as the crucial bypolls to the two Lok Sabha seats were held peacefully. There were complaints of EVM malfunctioning at a few booths, but the machines were promptly replaced without affecting the polling.
The reason behind the lower than expected turnout in the high-stakes polls in the country's electorally most significant state was said to be a lack of enthusiasm among voters who are now looking forward to the general elections which are barely a year away.
Tight security arrangements were in place to ensure free and fair polling. Apart from the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and homeguard jawans, 65 companies of central paramilitary forces were deployed to ensure peaceful bypolls.
Termed by Adityanath as a "rehearsal" for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the bye-polls are witnessing a triangular contest involving the ruling BJP, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress.
The saffron party has fielded Kaushalendra Singh Patel from Phulpur and Upendra Dutt Shukla from Gorakhpur against the SP's Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel and Pravin Nishad, respectively. The Congress has nominated Sureetha Kareem for Gorakhpur and Manish Mishra for Phulpur Lok Sabha seat. Ten candidates are in the fray from Gorakhpur, while 22 candidates are contesting from Phulpur.
Gorakhpur is significant for the BJP as it is the bastion of the chief minister, who represented the seat Lok Sabha five times. Prior to Adityanath, the seat was represented in parliament by his mentor Yogi Avaidyanath thrice.
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.