Mega bypolls in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar; test for BJP and Nitish

Mega bypolls in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar; test for BJP and Nitish

On the last day of campaigning, Rai had allegedly said, "If Sarfaraz (RJD candidate) wins this election, Araria will become a safe haven for the ISIS (the global Islamic terror group)".

Forty three per cent voters cast their mandate in the Gorakhpur parliamentary constituency on Sunday while Phulpur recorded an even lesser 37.39 per cent turnout in the crucial bypolls to the two Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. The party gave ticket to Yadavs son Kumar Krishna Mohan.

Congress and RJD had issues over seat-sharing before they finalised an arrangement in February under which the former was to contest from Bhabua alone.

This is the first electoral battle in Bihar following the fall of Mahagathbandhan government here in July 2017, when CM Nitish Kumar dumped the RJD-Congress combine and switched over to the BJP camp to form an NDA government in the state.

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This is the first electoral battle in the state since Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who also heads the JD (U), walked out of the alliance with the RJD and the Congress and joined the BJP-led NDA previous year. The key contenders for the seat are RJD's Sarafaraz Alam, Taslimuddin's son, and the BJP's Pradip Singh.

The bye-elections are being held for Araria Lok Sabha seat and, Jahanabad and Bhabhua Assembly constituencies. He was contesting against JD (U)'s Abhiram Sharma who had won the seat in 2010 when his party was an ally of the BJP. The BJP had fielded Kaushalendra Singh Patel from Phulpur.

While the BJP led NDA is hoping to clinch the three seats on its development plank and upper caste- backward vote bank, the RJD-Congress combine is trying to queer the pitch for its rival by riding high on secularism and its Muslim-Yadav combination, especially in Araria and Jehanabad seats. Reports claim that repolling may take place in Bhabhua on 23 polling booths on March 13 as EVMs were not working today.

The Election Commission has made a decision to use EVMs and VVPATs in the bye-elections in all the polling stations. The Bhabua seat is witnessing a straight contest between BJP's Rinki Pandey and Congress' Shambhu Singh Patel.