Bihar bypolls: Voting underway for Araria Lok Sabha, 2 assembly seats

Bihar bypolls: Voting underway for Araria Lok Sabha, 2 assembly seats

"Webcasting was done from 197 polling stations and officials, including those from the Election Commission, watched it to keep tabs on the voting", said Bihar's chief electoral officer (CEO) Ajay V. Nayak. The key contenders for the seat are RJD's Sarafaraz Alam, Taslimuddin's son, and the BJP's Pradip Singh.

These bypolls being the first elections after CM and JD (U) stalwart Nitish Kumar walked out of the grand alliance and formed a government in alliance with BJP in July 2017, they are being widely viewed as a mini-referendum on the ruling NDA.

Araria saw a 57 per cent voter turnout, while Jehanabad and Bhabua witnessed 50.6 and 54.3 per cent polling, respectively. Another key candidate for the seat is Shambhu Patel from Congress.

The by-election to the Araria seat was necessitated by the death of sitting RJD lawmaker Mohd Taslimuddin. In Jehanabad Assembly seat, the RJD fielded Uday Yadav.

BJP State president Nityanand Rai, addressing a public meeting on Friday, said that Araria would turn into "an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) hub if Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) wins the by-poll". JD (U) has fielded Abhiram Sharma as its candidate who is giving tough challenge to RJD candidate Mr Yadav.

The saffron party has fielded Kaushalendra Singh Patel from Phulpur and Upendra Dutt Shukla from Gorakhpur against the SP's Pravin Nishad and Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel, respectively.

Counting of votes will take place on March 14.

The BJP is hopeful of retaining the Bhabua Assembly seat riding on a sympathy wave for Anand Bhushan Pandey whose death at the age of 48 necessitated the bypoll. However, a total of 14 candidates including three women are in the fray.

While the Uttar Pradesh constituencies fell vacant after Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath became UP Chief Minister and Phulpur MP Keshav Prasad Maurya became deputy chief minister, all 3 Bihar seats fell vacant due to the death of their respective representatives.

Fifty-seven per cent polling was recorded in the by-election to the Araria Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar.

Sarfaraz quit as a JD (U) MLA before becoming the RJD candidate from his father's fiefdom.

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