In UP bypolls, turnout plunges by 10%, Yogi confident of win

In UP bypolls, turnout plunges by 10%, Yogi confident of win

The contest is mainly between RJD's Sarafaraz Alam, Taslimuddin's son, and BJP's Pradip Singh, who had won the seat in 2009 and finished runner-up in 2014.

Average voter turnout marked the by-elections to the Araria Lok Sabha constituency and the Jehanabad and Bhabua Assembly seats in Bihar on Sunday as polling was held in peaceful conditions, without any violence. Sources are saying that this will be the first major electoral test for Nitish Kumar who walked out of the Mahagathbandhan previous year and joined hands with the BJP to form the government. Till noon, 31.25 per cent voter turnout has been recorded in Araria; it was 24.5 per cent in Bhabhua and 28.6 per cent in Jehanabad, news agency ANI reported. The bye-elections were necessitated for both the seats after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated their constituencies following their election to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council. In Jehanabad Assembly seat, the RJD fielded Uday Yadav.

The Araria seat fell vacant after the death of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Mohammad Taslimuddin.

The Bihar bypolls have a special attention as Janata Dal-United (JDU) and chief minister Nitish Kumar has joined hands with the arc rivals Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and contesting against old partners RJD-Congress.

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The BSP is supporting the SP candidates in the two Lok Sabha seats whereas Congress, which contested the 2017 assembly poll with Samajwadi Party, had fielded its own candidates.

The BJP is hopeful of retaining the Bhabhua Assembly seat riding on a sympathy wave for Anand Bhushan Pandey whose death at the age of 48 has necessitated the bypoll. However, a total of 14 candidates including three women are in the fray. It has fielded Mr Pandey's wife Rinky Rani.

The results to be announced on March 14 are being keenly watched in Uttar Pradesh as it could lead to a bigger opposition alliance before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Bihar BJP chief Nityanand Rai on Friday stoked controversy after he allegedly said, if the RJD candidate Sarfaraz Alam wins the by-election, Araria will become a safe haven for the ISIS.

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