Samajwadi Party candidates were leading in Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh after initial rounds of counting for the parliamentary by-elections, officials said.
In the prestigious Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat, the home turf of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, BJP’s Upendra Dutt Shukla was trailing behind Praveen Nishad of the SP by over 1,500 votes at the end of third round of counting. Gorakhpur district magistrate Rajeev Rautela, who is also the returning officer, announced that after the third round of counting, Nishad polled 44,979 votes against 43,457 votes polled by Shukla.
Congress candidate Sureetha Kareem was a distant third with only 1,712 votes in her kitty.
In Phulpur, SP candidate Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel was leading by 8,199 votes after seven rounds of counting, election officials said. The SP candidate from Phulpur was ahead of BJP candidate Kaushalendra Patel. Independent Atiq Ahmed was at the third spot, followed by Congress
The trends had an echo in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, when the Leader of the Opposition Ram Gobind Chaudhary pointed out to the Chair that mediapersons were being barred from entering the counting centre in Gorakhpur, and described it as “murder of democracy”.
Amid uproarious scenes created by a jubilant SP members, Speaker Hriday Narayan Dixit adjourned the House briefly.
Ten nominees are in the fray from Gorakhpur, while 22 candidates contested from Phulpur The bypolls were necessitated after Adityanath and his Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats respectively, following their election to the state legislative council.
Gorakhpur is significant for the BJP with Adityanath representing the seat in the Lok Sabha five times. Before him, his mentor Yogi Avaidyanath was MP from the seat.
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.