For Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats, regional arch-rivals Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s BSP have teamed up.
| Edited by Aloke Tikku | Updated: March 14, 2018 06:05 IST
New Delhi: Counting of votes begins at 8 this morning for by-elections to three parliamentary and two assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where opposition parties have experimented with new alliances to see if they can pole-vault to the winning side. For Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats, regional arch-rivals Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s BSP, which were steamrolled by the BJP in last year’s assembly elections, have teamed up. In Bihar, elections to Araria Lok Sabha and two assembly seats are seen as a referendum on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s swapping the RJD-Congress combine with the BJP as his alliance partner last year.
Here is your 10-point cheatsheet on the big by-elections:
- Long before the last vote was cast, five-time lawmaker from Gorakhpur Yogi Adityanath had described the by-elections a dress rehearsal for the general election next year. “Our victory margins will be as big as in 2014,” he had told NDTV, a reflection of the chief minister’s confidence of the poll outcome in his stronghold that saw 47 per cent polling. The turnout was 38 per cent in Phulpur.
- Yogi Adityanath had vacated the Gorakhpur seat last year after the party named him as chief minister following the BJP’s oversized victory in the 2017 assembly elections, capturing 325 of the 403 assembly seats. His deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya had quit from the Phulpur seat after being named Deputy Chief Minister.
- The Chief Minister has been the party’s most visible face in both seats. The BJP’s candidate for the Gorakhpur seat is Upendra Dutt Shukla while Kaushalendra Patel has been fielded in Phulpur, once represented by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Mr Maurya was the first BJP leader to win this seat in 2014.
- The by-polls in Uttar Pradesh saw, for the first time in nearly 25 years, the coming together of the SP and BSP to prevent the BJP march in the two VIP constituencies. “If we win, there will be a bigger alliance,” promised Pravin Nishad, whom Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav has fielded in Gorakhpur, told NDTV.
- Mayawati, seen as the Dalit powerhouse in the state, has not fielded a candidate. Her workers have asked the sizeable Dalit community to vote for the SP candidate but she hasn’t committed her party to tying up with the SP till she knows that it will work. She has insisted on calling the tie-up with the SP an agreement, not an alliance.
- In Bihar too, the RJD, which is already in alliance with the Congress, is fighting to retain the Araria seat with new friends by its side, Dalit leaders Jiten Ram Manjhi and Anil Kumar Sadhu, who is also Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s son-in-law. The Araria seat fell vacant due to the death of RJD strongman Mohd Taslimuddin, who wrested the seat from the BJP’s Pradip Singh in 2014.
- The by-polls in Bihar are seen as a referendum on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s tie-up with the BJP, which Lalu Prasad’s RJD has consistently described as backstabbing of the voters, who chose the Grand Alliance of the RJD, JD (U) and the Congress and turned down the BJP in 2015. It is also seen as a test for Tejashwi Yadav, who is leading the RJD after his father and party boss Lalu Prasad was jailed in a corruption case. “We will win all three seats,” Mr Yadav said in Delhi.
- The RJD fielded Taslimuddin’s son Sarfaraz Alam, eyeing a chunk of the Muslim-Yadav voters who make up more than half the electorate. The BJP has fielded Pradip Singh, who had finished runner-up in 2014. The constituency saw 57 per cent voting.
- Elections to the Jehanabad and Babua assembly seat were also necessitated due to death of the lawmakers. In Jehanabad, the RJD has fielded Uday Yadav, son of its lawmaker who is in a direct contest with the JD (U)’s Abhiram Sharma who had won the seat in 2010 when his party was an ally of the BJP. The seat saw 50.06 per cent voting.
- From Babua seat, the BJP has fielded Rinki Rani Pandey, wife of party leader Anand Bhushan Pandey whose death led to the by-election. The Congress – which fielded Shambhu Patel – is banking on the popularity of former Lok Sabha speaker and Dalit leader Meira Kumar and its newly-inducted Dalit leaders to wrest the seat from the BJP. Bhabua, an assembly segment of Sasaram parliamentary constituency, has a significant chunk of Dalit voters. About 54.03 per cent of voters voted here.
Source: New feed