Poor voter turnout in UP bypolls as BJP, SP claim victory

Lucknow: Poor polling percentage was recorded in the bypolls for the Lok Sabha seats of Gorakhpur and Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, officials said.

According to Election Commission (EC) officials, 43 per cent voters had exercised their franchise in Gorakhpur when official voting hours ended at 5 p.m. while this percentage was just 38 per cent for the Phulpur seat in Allahabad.

Voters still in the queues outside various polling stations at the end of the voting hours will be allowed to vote, a poll official said, pointing out that it will lead to a marginal increase in the voting percentage.

The balloting percentage in Gorakhpur, represented in the Lok Sabha by Yogi Adityanath before he became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, in 2014 was 54.64 per cent.

Phulpur, represented by the present Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya before his election to the Legislative Council, had logged 50 per cent voting in the 2014 general elections.

In Phulpur, the poorest polling on Sunday was reported from Allahabad (East) where only 21.65 per cent voters turned up to exercise their franchise, followed by Allahabad (West) with 31 per cent.

Snags in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) were reported from some places. Polling was held up at Kidwai College in Allahabad (East) for some time due to a technical glitch.

In Gorakhpur, the lowest voter turnout of 33 per cent was in Gorakhpur city, and the highest 47 per cent in Sahjanwa and Campierganj.

Both Chief Minister Adityanath and Maurya claimed victory for the BJP candidates, irrespective of the voter turnout in the two seats.

After casting his vote, a beaming Adityanath told reporters that the “BJP continues to get a groundswell of public support since they are witnessing development, peace and prosperity under its government”.

He also denied the influence of the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance on the bypoll results.

“This is an unholy and opportunistic alliance and the people know their real agenda very well and will thus defeat them emphatically,” the Chief Minister said.

Maurya, after casting his vote along with his wife and son, said the victory margins will be big in both seats in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“On March 14, when the votes are counted, the Bua-Bhatija (Mayawati-Akhilsh Yadav) will suffer another sad jolt.”

SP chief and former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav took to microblogging site Twitter and claimed that the byelection outcome would be “historic and a game changer”.

Bharatiya Janata Party’s Upendra Dutt Shukla is in the fray in Gorakhpur, represented by Adityanath since 1998. Gorakhpur has 970 polling centres and 2,141 polling stations.

There are 19.49 lakh eligible voters, including over 8 lakh women.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) has fielded Praveen Nishad in Gorakhpur. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) have extended support to the SP candidate.

The Congress is fighting on its own and has named Surahita Kareem as its candidate.

The Phulpur seat has 793 polling centres and 2,059 polling stations. A total of 19.63 lakh voters decided the fate of 22 candidates.

The BJP has fielded Kaushlendra Singh Patel against Nagendra Singh Patel of the SP. The BSP, here too, is supporting the SP candidate. The Congress has fielded Manish Mishra.