The Samajwadi Party is ahead of the BJP by nearly 14,000 votes in by-elections for Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur parliament seat, where a top official barred the media from entering the area where votes are being counted, in what is now a full-blown political controversy. The Samajwadi Party is also leading in Phulpur by over 20,000 votes. Gorakhpur was vacated by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Phulpur by his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya of the BJP. Today’s by-election is a prestige battle for the ruling party, which took on the combined might of regional heavyweights and arch-rivals Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s BSP in an experiment seen to test a bigger alliance for the 2019 national election.
Confusion prevailed in the prestigious Gorakhpur Lok Sabha bypoll counting trend even as after three round the opposition Samajwadi Party candidate was reported to be leading by around 1523 votes.
The counting process in Gorakhpur was disrupted for 20 minutes as the authorities removed all the media persons from the counting centre.
The supporters of the SP and others also raised slogans against the district authorities outside the counting centre alleging their biased role.
In Lucknow too, UP assembly was adjourned over the Gorakhpur counting issue following ruckus by the opposition.
Though nine round of counting has been completed but the results of only upto three rounds were announced.
In by-elections in Bihar, the BJP and Lalu Yadav’s RJD are locked in a close contest, with the RJD currently ahead by over 14,000 votes in Araria, a parliament seat that it holds. The BJP is leading in the Bhabua assembly seat, while the RJD is leading in Jahanabad, both parties holding.
Opposition lawmakers protested in Parliament against the unusual ban on the media by Gorakhpur’s District Magistrate Rajeev Rautela. In UP capital Lucknow, the state assembly was adjourned for 10 minutes as Samajwadi Party legislators protested.
Mr Rautela told reporters, “You can shoot as much as you want. The Election Commission says the media is not allowed where EVMs are in circulation…The counting is being scrutinized minutely by the observers. I can bring you the sheets as soon as they are signed by them.”