Mega bypolls in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar; test for BJP and Nitish

Gorakhpur: Voting for the crucial Gorakhpur and Phulpur parliamentary constituencies in Uttar Pradesh was underway on Sunday, according to election officials.

Yogi said the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party imported candidates for Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls and when it didn't work, they made elephant (BSP's poll symbol) sit on a bicycle (SP's poll symbol).

Phulpur, represented by the present Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya before his election to the Legislative Council, had logged 50 per cent voting in the 2014 general elections.

In Gorakhpur, the lowest voter turnout of 33 per cent was in Gorakhpur city, and the highest 47 per cent in Sahjanwa and Campierganj.

Ten candidates are in the fray from Gorakhpur, while 22 candidates are contesting from Phulpur in the bypolls. "There would be no vote transfer of BSP to SP candidates as claimed by the parties and they are just giving statements to confuse the voters".

Once considered to be the Congress stronghold by virtue of being Nehru's constituency, it remained with SP from 1996 to 2004 and in 2009 BSP snatched it away from SP.

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The counting of votes will be held on March 14. "People have understood that the SP-BSP alliance is of trade and opportunism", Yogi said after coming out from the polling booth.

The Congress is fighting on its own and has named Surahita Kareem as its candidate.

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. The key contenders for the seat are RJD's Sarafaraz Alam, Taslimuddin's son, and the BJP's Pradip Singh.

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 bypoll.

In Jehanabad, the RJD hopes to retain the Assembly seat that fell vacant after the death of Mundrika Yadav. The party, which had joined hands with SP in the assembly polls held past year, has fielded Manish Mishra from Phulpur.

The NDA fielded Abhiram Sharma of the Janata Dal (United), who had won the seat in 2010 when his party was an ally of the BJP.

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