Spotlight On Yogi Adityanath's Gorakhpur, Deputy's Phulpur In UP Bypolls

UP by-election: The ruling BJP had won over 300 seats in the 403-member UP assembly last year.

Gorakhpur:  As Uttar Pradesh votes for Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha constituencies vacated by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya, the ruling BJP, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress gear up for a triangular contest in the bypolls. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) put aside its decades-old enmity with Samajwadi Party to support a common candidate. The arch rivals have joined hands with an objective to defeat who they see as a common enemy.

Voting will be held tomorrow and counting will take place on March 14. The ruling BJP, which won over 300 seats in the 403-member UP assembly last year, expects a walkover.

In Gorakhpur, a total of 10 candidates will be fighting in the by-election. The seat is prestigious for the party as Yogi Adityanath represented it for five consecutive terms. Before him, his guru and head of the Gorakhspeeth, Mahant Avaidyanath was the lawmaker from 1989 to 1998. It will be for the first time in decades that anybody from outside the Gorakshnath temple is contesting the polls.

The BJP has named old party hand Upendra Shukla. He has headed the BJP’s operations since 2014 and is currently the regional head of the party from Gorakhpur. Mr Shukla was instrumental in securing huge victories for the party in the Purvanchal region during the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections of last year.

The SP, which is contesting the Gorakhpur by-election in alliance with Peace Party and Nishad Party, has fielded Praveen Kumar Nishad as its candidate. He is the son of Nishad Party chief Sanjay Nishad. Praveen Nishad is a qualified mechanical engineer and the SP has projected him as an emerging face from the community.

Suhita Chatterjee Kareem will represent Congress from Gorakhpur. She is a renowned gynaecologist and a social worker. Her husband Dr Wajahat Kareem is also a known social worker and filmmaker.

While SP chief Akhilesh Yadav has addressed only one public meeting for Mr Nishad, Yogi Adityanath has addressed several rallies in his hometown.

The Phulpur parliamentary constituency consists of Phulpur, Phaphamau, Soraon (SC), Allahabad North, and Allahabad West assembly segments. The seat was once held by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Keshav Maurya won with a record margin of 3.08 lakh votes.

As many as 22 candidates, including nine independents, are in the fray. The BJP has fielded Kaushlendra Singh Patel, Varanasi’s mayor from 2006 to 2012, who will face Samajwadi Party’s Nagendra Singh Patel and Congress’s Manish Mishra in Phulpur.