Voting starts for Gorakhpur, Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls

The voting percentage till 11 am was poor and the average polling in both constituencies was 14.50 percent.

The reason behind the lower than expected turnout in the high-stakes polls in the country's electorally most significant state was said to be a lack of enthusiasm among voters who are now looking forward to the general elections which are barely a year away. The Congress has fielded Manish Mishra as its candidate.

Referring to BSP's support to SP in the bypolls, Adityanath, who addressed four rallies in Gorakhpur Friday, said, "When the SP found that the tactic of fielding imported candidate is not working, it mounted elephant (BSP's poll symbol) on bicycle (SP's symbol)?that cycle has already dismantled".

"The agenda of good governance and development will win. Mayawati will also face a similar fate in bypolls", predicted the Chief Minister. "Their (SP-BSP) votes will be transferred only when they have enough votes".

Attacking the BSP and the SP, the chief minister claimed, "These parties are indulging in negative politics, politics of bargaining and politics of opportunism. The state has suffered the negative consequences of SP and BSP governments", he said.

"Gorakhpur recorded a turnout of 43 per cent and Phulpur 37.39 per cent", it added.

By 12 noon, 31.25 percent voter turnout was recorded in Bihar's Araria constituency, 24.5 percent in Bhabhua and 28.6 percent in Jahanabad.

A police case was filed against BJP state president Nityanand Rai for allegedly making a provocative speech that "voting for RJD candidate will turn the state into a safe haven for the ISIS".

The by-elections are being watched with much eagerness as this is the first electoral battle in the state since last year's political realignment when chief minister Nitish Kumar, who also heads the JD (U), walked out of the Grand Alliance and rejoined the BJP-led NDA. "People will reject them too", said Yogi Adityanath.

In Araria, RJD's Sarfaraz Alam, son of deceased MP Taslimuddin is contesting against BJP's Pradip Singh while in Jehanabad the fight is between RJD's Suday Yadav, son of deceased MLA Mundrika Singh Yadav, and JD (U)'s Abhiram Sharma.

In the Bhabua assembly, the key battle is between BJP fielded candidate Rinki Rani Pandey and Shambhu Patel from Congress. Election became necessary for the seat after the death of BJP leader Anand Bhushan Pandey.

Vanessa Coleman