Voting for by-elections to three Lok Sabha seats, two in Uttar Pradesh and one in Bihar, is being held. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath turned up at a polling booth in Gorakhpur at 7:15 am to cast his vote. Bypolls in Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur and Phulpur, vacated by Mr Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya, respectively, are seen as a prestige battle for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Uttar Pradesh bypolls are also a test for the new electoral arrangement between rivals Samajwadi Party (SP) of Akhilesh Yadav and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati. In Bihar, voting is being held for Araria Lok Sabha seat and two assembly seats. It is the first electoral test for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after he walked out of the Grand Alliance last year and teamed up with the BJP.
Here are the live updates of the bypolls in Gorakhpur, Phulpur, Araria and two Bihar assembly seats:
A total of 37.39 per cent polling was witnessed in Phulpur and 43 per cent voter turnout was recorded in Gorakhpur.
Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency witnessed a polling percentage of around 40 per cent while Phulpur saw a turnout of around 29 per cent till 4 pm today, Election Commission sources said, news agency PTI reported.
In Gorakhpur parliamentary constituency, there are 970 polling centres and 2,141 polling booths, while in Phulpur, there are 793 polling centres and 2,059 polling booths.
Apart from the Provincial Armed Constabulary and Home Guard personnel, 65 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed to ensure peaceful bypolls.
Voting for by-elections to Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats, which began on a dull note today, picked up momentum by noon amid tight security arrangements to ensure free and fair polling.
Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla has cast his vote in Gorakhpur.
Till 11 am, voter turnout has been recorded at 16.8 per cent in Gorakhpur, while it is 12.2 per cent in Phulpur, the joint chief electoral officer said in a statement.
"Today's day is also of changing history and also of creating new history. Leave and show everyone how much power we have in our solidarity. The results will prove to be revolutionary and decisive for the future of the state and the country."
Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party
Till 9 am, voter turnout has been recorded at 6.8 per cent in Gorakhpur, while it is 4.8 per cent in Phulpur, the joint chief electoral officer said in a statement.
Praveen Nishad, Samajwadi Party candidate from Gorakhpur, shows his inked finger after casting his vote.
People stand in a queue to cast their vote in the Jehanabad assembly bypoll in Bihar.
"We are very much sure that this time SP and BSP will not be able to stop the winning track of BJP in UP. They have ministers who can only pass comments and can't do anything else. We will win with full majority."
Keshav Prasad Maurya, deputy chief minister, Uttar Pradesh
"I always vote early in the morning. I am not worried at all. I still maintain that the SP-BSP alliance is an opportunistic one. Their alliance is bound to fail. Our victory margins will be as big as in 2014," Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath told NDTV.
"BJP will win both the bypolls (Gorakhpur and Phulpur) with massive majority and on the basis of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's governance of development. The 2019 election results will also be good for the BJP."
Yogi Adityanath, chief minister, Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya has reached a polling booth in Phulpur to cast his vote.
In Bihar's Araria, a complaint has been filed against Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai for allegedly violating the model code of conduct. New agency ANI reported that Mr Rai allegedly said, "If Sarfaraz Alam (RJD candidate) wins the bypoll, then Araria will become hub of ISI."
Election official prepare to receive voters in Bhabhua, where assembly bypoll is being held. The Bhabua assembly seat was vacated after the death of the BJP's Anand Bhushan Pandey. The BJP-JD(U) ruling alliance has fielded his widow Rinki Rani Pandey and hopes to win the seat that has a big chunk of Dalits voters.
A policeman guards a polling booth in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, where by-election is being held on a Lok Sabha seat vacated by chief minister Yogi Adityanath. The other Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh where bypoll is being held in Phulpur, vacated by Keshav Prasad Maurya.
An election officer waits for voters as he prepares to conduct the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha bypoll in Uttar Pradesh.
After casting his vote in the Gorakhpur by-election, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath said, "For development and good governance, BJP is necessary." Bypolls in Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur and Phulpur, vacated by Mr Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya, respectively, are seen as a prestige battle for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Bhabua assembly seat in Bihar was vacated after the death of the BJP's Anand Bhushan Pandey. The BJP-JD(U) ruling alliance has fielded his widow Rinki Rani Pandey and hopes to win the seat that has a big chunk of Dalits voters. The Congress has put up Shambhu Patel, banking on the popularity of former Lok Sabha speaker and Dalit leader Meira Kumar, who has earlier represented Sasaram, the parliamentary constituency of which Bhabua is an assembly segment.
In Bihar's Jehanabad, where the assembly by-election is taking place due to the death of RJD lawmaker Mundrika Singh Yadav, the RJD has fielded his son Uday Yadav. He 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.
In Araria, a seat that fell vacant due to the death of Rashtriya Janata Dal strongman Mohd Taslimuddin, the RJD has fielded his 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 won the seat in 2009 and finished runner-up in 2014. While Mr Yadav has addressed several meetings in Araria over three days, Mr Kumar has addressed two rallies.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath votes in the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha bypoll.
Yogi Adityanath represented the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat five times in a row till he was made the chief minister last year after the BJP swept the assembly polls. That win came three years after the BJP won 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2014, riding on the "Modi wave". This time, the chief minister has campaigned extensively for BJP's Upendra Dutt Shukla who is the party's regional head.
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