Uttar Pradesh, Bihar bypolls a litmus test for Yogi Adityanath, Nitish Kumar
New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh faced its first electoral tests on Sunday after byelections were held in Gorakhpur, the Lok Sabha constituency of chief minister Yogi Adityanath, and Phulpur, held by deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.
A similar political battle took place between the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar where voting took place for byelection to Araria Lok Sabha seat.
This is the first major electoral contest since Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar joined hands with the BJP in July 2017. It is also being considered a major test for RJD which is contesting the polls in the absence of Prasad who is in jail in the fodder scam case.
The two Lok Sabha byelections in UP are crucial for NDA as both the seats were won by the BJP during the 2014 general elections when the NDA managed to win 73 out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats from the populous state. The performance of the party in the bypolls could be seen as a statement on the government.
“The BJP was the challenger in 2014 Lok Sabha polls; now we are in the government both in the state and at the centre, so it is important for us to win both seats comfortably. The seats were held by CM and deputy CM so it is all the more important for the party to perform well,” said a senior leader of BJP based in Lucknow.
The bypolls are also crucial because Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has decided to support arch rival Samajwadi Party (SP) in the two constituencies. This opposition alliance is important because it can be repeated in the 2019 general elections to challenge the BJP. The Congress decided to go it alone.
In Bihar, apart from Araria Lok Sabha byelections, polling also took place for Bhabhua and Jehanabad assembly constituencies. In Araria, the leadership of Tejashwi Yadav, former deputy CM of Bihar and son of Lalu Prasad, is being tested as he has been spearheading party’s campaign.
While Gorakhpur recorded a turnout of 43%, Phulpur saw a turnout of 37.39%, PTI reported. The bypoll in Araria recorded 57% polling while Bhabua and Jehanabad constituencies saw a voter turnout of 54.03% and 50.06% respectively, Bihar chief electoral officer Ajay V. Nayak said.
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