Lucknow: The ruling BJP and opposition parties are bracing up for the Lok Sabha by-polls to Phulpur and Gorakhpur constituencies represented by Keshav Prasad Maurya and Yogi Adityanath respectively. The bypolls are likely to be held in March.
All eyes will be on the two bypolls, specifically because the ruling BJP will try to repeat its 2017 UP Assembly polls performance in which the party and its allies stormed to power bagging 325 out of the 403 seats in the Assembly.
While the BJP will try to retain both seats, the opposition will seek to wrest both seats from the ruling party.
Both the parliamentary constituencies of Gorakhpur and Phulpur fell vacant following the election of the sitting MPs Yogi Adityanath (UP chief minister) and Keshav Prasad Maurya (UP's deputy chief minister) respectively as members of UP's Legislative Council.
On January 18, the Election Commission had indicated that bypolls to both the constituencies could be held in March.
Opposition parties -- SP and BSP - have been demanding that voting for the two seats be held through ballot paper.
The bypolls for the two Lok Sabha seats will also be a test for the Congress and the Samajwadi Party.
Exuding confidence that the saffron party will emerge victorious on both seats, UP BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said, "BJP is a party, which is always ready for elections. We are a cadre-based party. I am confident that the party will improve its winning margin.
"As far as the opposition crying foul over the use of EVMs, all I can say is that holding EVMs responsible for electoral loss simply shows the immaturity of opposition parties. The days of casteist-communal politics practised by the opposition parties are over.The public wants development," he said.
Tripathi also took a jibe at rival parties for their inability to field a common candidate.
"Fielding a common candidate by rival political parties seems to be a far-fetched idea given their wide range of political ambition," he said.
Holding that the bypoll to the two parliamentary seats will be challenge to the 10-month-old Yogi Adityanath government, SP spokesperson Sunil Singh Sajan said, "SP will contest the bypolls for Phulpur and Gorakhpur on its own. We have an organisation in every district of the state.
"The public of the state is terrified, as attacks on women have become a common phenomena in the state. Even the state capital is rocked by incidents of dacoity. The farmers are virtually in a state of shock. All this will definitely count in the mind of the voter when he goes to cast his vote," he said.
UP Congress spokesman Ashok Singh, said, "The Congress is likely to field its own candidate. The BJP's performance will be very poor (in bypolls), as the public is simply fed up with the deteriorating law and order in the state, which has gone from bad to worse. And despite, the poor scenario of law and order, the UP government seems to be in a state of coma."
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav had last month demanded that the by-elections to Phulpur and Gorakhpur be held through ballot paper.
"The by-elections to Lok Sabha constituencies of Phulpur and Gorakhpur be held through ballot paper in place of electronic voting machines (EVMs). People are having faith in free and fair polls. But, in case of EVMs, there are various doubts. Hence, the polling should be held through ballot paper," Akhilesh had said.
He further added in a democracy, healthy traditions and transparent system helps in gaining the trust of the people.
"Due to EVMs, there has been an erosion of trust. In the elections, there have been a number of complaints pertaining to faulty EVMs. This is not a good sign for democracy," Akhilesh said.
The Samajwadi Party also claimed that the picture was not that rosy for the saffron party.
Of the 11,994 candidates it fielded for elections to municipal wards (in the urban local bodies' polls) in the three-tier civic polls, 9,812 lost.
In December, a day after the BJP swept the Uttar Pradesh civic polls, opposition parties had demanded that all elections in the future be held through ballot papers instead of electronic voting machines (EVMs).
BSP chief Mayawati, who had in March raised doubts over EVMs after the assembly elections, threw an open challenge to the BJP to hold the 2019 Lok Sabha polls using ballot papers.
"If the BJP claims that they enjoy the mandate of the people and the entire country is with them, then they should set aside EVMs and hold elections through ballot paper. And, I can say with full confidence that if the 2019 Lok Sabha polls are held using ballot paper, they (the BJP) will not come to power," Mayawati had claimed.
SP national president Akhilesh Yadav had said the "BJP has only won 15 per cent seats in ballot paper areas and 46 per cent in EVM areas."
Senior Congress leader Deepak Singh had said, "The BJP won 14 out of the 16 mayoral seats in which elections were held using EVMs. But, it lost most of the seats where election was held using ballot paper."
"The BJP (and its allies), which had won 73 out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats and 325 out of 403 assembly seats in UP, could manage to win only 184 out of 652 seats in the UP urban local body polls. This is barely 28 per cent, which is less than the passing percentage of 33. Then why there is so much of halla (noise) about this?" Singh had said in a statement.