Setback for ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in North Indian by-elections

Setback for ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in North Indian by-elections

New Delhi, March 14 (The Hindu/Indian Express): The Gorakhpur parliamentary constituency by-election, once a stronghold of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, has the Samajwadi Party’s Praveen Nishad leading over the Adityanath’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The other constituency having a by-poll in UP, Phulpur, also has Samajwadi Party in the lead.

In Bihar’s Araria constituency, the BJP’s Pradeep Singh is trailing behind the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) Sarfaraj Alam.

Ten nominees are in the fray in the by-election in Gorakhpur and 22 in Phulpur. Counting of votes is on in both the constituencies and the results will be declared on Wednesday.

Yogi Adityanath has represented the Gorakhpur seat five times. Before him, his mentor Yogi Avaidyanath held the seat.

Phulpur, once represented by the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, witnessed a saffron surge in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya had won the seat.

However, the BJP bagged the Bhabua assembly seat, while the RJD  managed to win the Jehanabad seat and is also maintaining its lead on the Araria Lok Sabha seat.

Counting of votes for the three  seats in Bihar began amid tight security around 8 am today. Araria went to polling on Sunday (March 11) along with two Assembly seats of Jehanabad and Bhabua. The bye-election results to the Araria Lok Sabha constituency will be declared today.

While Araria Lok Sabha seat saw a turnout of 57 per cent, Jehanabad and Bhabua recorded 50.6 per cent and 54.3 per cent turnout, respectively. Bihar Chief Electoral Officer Ajay V Naik said polling was held peacefully in the three seats.

The bye-poll in Araria is being viewed as a test for the ruling JD(U)-BJP combine as well as the opposition RJD-Congress alliance, ahead of the big battle in the general elections due next year. It is the first major test for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar since he walked out of the Grand Alliance last year.

The bye-election to the Araria seat was necessitated after the death of sitting RJD lawmaker Mohd Taslimuddin. The contest is mainly between RJDs Sarafaraz Alam, Taslimuddin’s son, and BJP’s Pradip Singh, who had won the seat in 2009 and finished runners-up in 2014.

In Jehanabad, the RJD hopes to retain the Assembly seat that fell vacant after the death of Mundrika Yadav. The party gave ticket to Yadav’s son Kumar Krishna Mohan.

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 bye-election. The saffron party fielded Pandey’s wife Rinky Rani.

(The features image at the top shows followers of Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav celebrating their alliance’s leads)