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Low Turnout Marks UP Bypoll Battle; Gorakhpur Registers 47 Percent, Phulpur 37 Percent

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, respectively following their election to the state legislative council.

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Updated:March 13, 2018, 4:16 PM IST
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Low Turnout Marks UP Bypoll Battle; Gorakhpur Registers 47 Percent, Phulpur 37 Percent
Voters display their voter's ID card at a polling booth for Phulpur bypoll elections in Allahabad on Sunday. (PTI Photo)
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Lucknow: Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency witnessed a polling percentage of 47.45 percent while Phulpur saw a turnout of only 37.39 percent at the close of the voting on Sunday, said Election Commission.

Assembly segment-wise breakup of the vote percentage throws an interesting picture. Voting in the rural areas viz., Phaphamau – 43%, Soraon – 45% and Phulpur – 46.32% was higher than the urban segments of Allahabad West – 31% and Allahabad North – 21.65%.

While Allahabad north registered only 21.65 percent, Gorakhpur city recored 33 percent. BJP expected substantial leads from these pockets, so a low turnout might worry the party.

Rural segments in both places witnessed a bigger turnout. The SP-BSP alliance is said to have fought well in these pockets.

"We will win but with reduced victory margin. Election at both places, particularly Phulpur, could have been very tough if opposition had worked more strategically," said a BJP leader, who did not wish to be named.

The SP, though, is reading the numbers differently and says the low turnout is in their favour.

"We managed to bring in our voters in rural areas to polling booth. Hope to lead from three assembly constituencies in Gorakhpur: Pipraich, Gorakhpur rural and Kampiyarganj," said an SP leader.

Sahjanwa, which has a strong Brahmin presence, witnessed good polling and the BJP is upbeat about its chances.

The BJP, while assured of upper caste votes, is worried about the non-Yadav Backward and non-Jatav Dalit votes, especially after the BSP’s backing to Samajwadi Party candidates.

The SP says that non-Yadav OBCs have moved towards it and BSP's core Jatav vote bank will support it.

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, respectively following their election to the state legislative council.

After casting his vote in Gorakhpur, Adityanath claimed the BJP was getting widespread support from the people.

Speaking to News18 after casting his vote on Sunday morning, Yogi Adityanath called the BSP-SP partnership an "unholy alliance". "The voters will reject this opportunistic, unethical and unholy alliance," he said.

On the voting day, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said it was a day to "change and re-write history".

Termed by Adityanath a "rehearsal" for the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the by-elections are witnessing a triangular contest involving the ruling BJP, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress.

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 Congress has nominated Sureetha Kareem for Gorakhpur and Manish Mishra for Phulpur Lok Sabha seat.

Gorakhpur is significant for the BJP as it is the bastion of the chief minister, who represented the seat in the Lok Sabha five times. Prior to Yogi Adityanath, the seat was represented in parliament by his mentor Yogi Avaidyanath thrice.

Phulpur, once represented by the country's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, witnessed a saffron surge in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and Maurya won there.

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| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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