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

Voting for 3 Lok Sabha bypolls in UP, Bihar to be held tomorrow

Counting of votes will take place on 14 March. In Gorakhpur, the BJP had nominated Upendra Dutt Shukla against SP's Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel and Sureetha Kareem of the Congress.

The by-poll in Araria is being viewed as a test for the ruling JD (U)-BJP combine as well as the opposition RJD-Congress alliance, ahead of the big battle in the general elections due next year.

The Lok Sabha seat for Araria, held by RJD Mohd Taslimuddin, fell vacant after his death, and the assembly seat for Jehanabad was vacated by the death of RJD lawmaker Mundrika Singh Yadav, and the Bhabua assembly seat was vacated after the death of the BJP's Anand Bhushan Pandey. Mr Taslimuddin's death necessitated the by-election on this seat.

This is the first electoral battle in the state since Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who also heads the JD (U), walked out of the alliance with the RJD and the Congress and joined the BJP-led NDA previous year. Also, the opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav, who has led the campaign in as his father and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, is in jail in a corruption case.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was among the early voters in Gorakhpur. Mayawati has not fielded any candidate for the by-elections, announcing that her party workers "will vote for the candidate who is best positioned to defeat the BJP".

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Of the 11 preventive arrests made by the police today, one was arrested in Araria Lok Sabha constituency while others were nabbed in Bhabhua Assembly seat, police said.

In Araria parliamentary constituency, seven candidates are fighting it out. The total number of candidates in the fray here is 17.

BJP has fielded former MP Pradeep Kumar Singh for the seat.

"I have asked Narpatganj Assembly constituency's nodal officer-cum-Circle Officer to lodge an FIR against Bihar BJP Nityanand Rai chief Nityanand Rai for violating model code of conduct", Araria District Magistrate Himanshu Sharma told PTI.

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.

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