BJP Trails in CM Yogi Gorakhpur, Dy CM Maurya's Phulpur

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath flashes victory sign after casting his vote for local body elections in Gorakhpur

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath flashes victory sign after casting his vote for local body elections in Gorakhpur

According to reports, a top official ordered the media out of the counting centre as soon as the gap started narrowing between the candidates of the ruling BJP and its main challenger, the Samajwadi Party.

On the other hand, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had said it (polling day) was a day to "change and re-write history". Gorakhpur is the sitting seat of UP Chief Minister Adityanath.

However, no BJP spokesperson or leader were available to react on the bypoll trend.

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. The byelection generated a lot of interest with many experts viewing it as a rehearsal for 2019 Lok Sabha elections, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. A constituency won by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on five successive occasions, the saffron party not only has to win Gorakhpur but also retain, if not increase, Adityanath's 2014 victory margin of nearly 3.13 lakh votes.

The BJP, which has an overwhelming majority in the state Assembly, has nothing to lose in terms of number, but the polls can be a precursor to the general elections next year. Patel will contest against BJP candidate and fellow OBC leader Kaushlendra Singh Patel, who has also been Varanasi mayor.

However, the stakes are also high for the Opposition after BSP chief Mayawati went out of character and announced support to the Samajwadi Party candidates.

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A joint forum of the Delhi government employees has demanded action against Kejriwal and Sisodia in connection with the case. Mr Maken also attacked the BJP for boycotting the meet. "The BJP can resolve the issue in a day if they want to".

The bypolls were necessitated after Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats following their election to the state legislative council.

In neighbouring Bihar, the turnout was slightly better - 57% in Araria Lok Sabha constituency and 50.6% and 54.6% respectively in Jehanabad and Bhabhua Assembly constituencies.

Initially the postal ballots were being counted after which the electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be opened for counting.

The voter turnout was 47.45% in Gorakhpur and 37.39% in Phulpur in Sunday's polling.

Mr Rautela told reporters, "You can shoot as much as you want".

With the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) backing its bitter rival Samajwadi Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party appeared to be heading for a shock defeat in both the constituencies. The Congress too has fielded a candidate.

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