In a dramatic turn of events, the Samajwadi Party (SP) has taken a marginal lead in Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s bastion Gorakhpur after trailing since early morning.
As per trends available around 1 pm, SP’s Praveen Kumar Nishad was leading by 15,000 votes from the seat that has been represented by Adityanath for five consecutive terms.
Nishad polled 44,979 votes while BJP’s Upendra Dutt Shukla was a close second with 43,456 votes.
Meanwhile, reports have emerged that media was barred from the counting centre in Gorakhpur while the official updates after each round of counting were being delayed deliberately.
As the opposition created a ruckus over the issue, Lucknow Assembly had to be adjourned till 12.20 pm.
The SP was ahead on the second Lok Sabha seat of Phulpur as well with a healthy lead of over 12,000 votes.
SP’s Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel polled 99,557 votes while BJP’s Kaushlendra Singh Patel was second with 87,326 votes after eight rounds of counting.
The final results are expected to be declared by afternoon by the Election Commission (EC).
The bypolls were necessitated after Adityanath and Maurya vacated the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats respectively, following their election to the state legislative council.
Termed by Adityanath a “rehearsal” for the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the bypolls saw a triangular contest involving the ruling BJP, the SP and the Congress.
Gorakhpur is significant for the BJP as it is the stronghold of the chief minister, who represented the seat in the Lok Sabha five times. Prior to Adityanath, the seat was thrice represented in Parliament by his mentor, Yogi Avaidyanath.
Phulpur, once represented by the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, witnessed a saffron surge in the 2014 Lok Sabha election when Maurya won the seat.