Phulpur and Gorakhpur go to by-polls today
Lucknow: Voting will be held on Sunday for bypolls to Lok Sabha seats of Phulpur and Gorakhpur, a stronghold of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, with a riveting triangular contest on the cards after Mayawati-led BSP extended support to Samajwadi Party to take on the BJP, while the Congress joined the fray on its own.
Tight security arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful polling in Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats, vacated by Adityanath and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya respectively following their election to Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council.
The outcome of the bye-election will be crucial, as a success for the SP-BSP experiment could pave the way for the two major players in Uttar Pradesh to tie up in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to counter the BJP, which had trounced them in the last general and assembly elections. There are 10 candidates in the fray from Gorakhpur, while there are 22 candidates contesting from Phulpur.
The BJP has fielded Kaushalendra Singh Patel from Phulpur and Upendra Dutt Shukla from Gorakhpur against SP's Pravin Nishad and Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel respectively. Sureetha Kareem is the Congress candidate from Gorakhpur. The party, which had joined hands with SP in the assembly polls held last year, has fielded Manish Mishra from Phulpur.
For the BJP, Gorakhpur is significant as it is the bastion of the chief minister, who has represented the seat in the Lok Sabha five times. Prior to Yogi Adityanath, the seat was thrice represented in Parliament by his mentor Yogi Avaidyanath.
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.