LUCKNOW: Campaigning for the high-pitched battle in Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls ended on Friday. While Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath attended public meetings in Gorakhpur, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav campaigned in Phulpur. The bye-elections are expected to witness a triangular contest between the ruling BJP, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress.
The elections will be seen as a referendum for Yogi Adityanath as he himself has been a five-time MP from the temple town. BJP has a stronghold on the seat where it has been in power since 1989. However, the tragedy in Gorakhpur's Baba Raghav Das Medical College last year where over 70 infants died due to lack of oxygen may have an impact on the results.
The bypolls were necessitated after Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated the Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats respectively, following their election to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council.
Phulpur, once the bastion of the Congress and represented by India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, witnessed a saffron surge in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, when Maurya won the seat.
The saffron party has fielded Kaushalendra Singh Patel from Phulpur and Upendra Dutt Shukla from Gorakhpur against the SP's Pravin Nishad and Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel respectively. Sureetha Kareem is the Congress candidate from Gorakhpur. The party has fielded Manish Mishra from Phulpur.
According to the Election Commission, there 19.61 lakh voters in Phulpur parliamentary constituency, while there are 19.49 lakh voters in Gorakhpur parliamentary.
The importance that this election holds for the SP and BSP can be understood by the fact that the two parties have joined hands to fight the polls together. The BSP backed SP in the polls in return for their support to send a BSP candidate to Rajya Sabha.