At around 11 am when the news came that mediapersons were asked to leave the counting station in Gorakhpur, eyebrows were raised. The passes for the scribes were issued by the Returning Officer for the bypolls, who happens to be the District Magistrate. Suddenly the cops asked journalists to go away, claiming that the DM had asked everyone other than party agents to vacate the counting station.
The next minute came news that Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate in Gorakhpur was trailing behind the Samajwadi Party candidate by over 1,500 votes. Is this why the DM asked scribes to leave the counting station? The media protested but were thrown out, with the result that counting was halted for over 20 minutes.
The supporters of SP and other parties raised slogans against the district authorities outside the counting centre, alleging bias. They also alleged that an attempt would be made by the DM to rig the election.
In Lucknow too, the Uttar Pradesh assembly was adjourned over the Gorakhpur counting issue following ruckus by the opposition. Leader of Opposition Ram Govind Chaudhry intervened during Question Hour saying that he wants an adjournment motion as district officials in Gorakhpur allegedly used force against mediapersons.
Speaker Hridaya Narain Dixit did not allow the motion, saying Question Hour should be taken up first. This angered the Opposition, who stormed the well of the House, raising slogans.
“BJP is losing election in both in Gorakhpur and Phulpur and now it is using DM to rig the polls. This is against democracy. Loktantray ki hatyari sarkar nahi chalegi”, said Chaudhry.
Incidentally, Congress, which had contested the elections, too joined the protest, presenting a unified Opposition. “We are with SP and BSP as this BJP Government is trying to muzzle the democracy by using force against media,” said Ajay Kumar Lallu, Congress Legislature Party leader in the UP Vidhan Sabha.
Meanwhile, the Vidhan Parishad was also in turmoil on the issue as SP and BSP entered the well of the House. Soon the Upper House too was adjourned for the day.
The issue was raised in the Lok Sabha too, when Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia congratulated former Samajwadi president Mulayam Singh Yadav for SP’s fantastic performance. Trinamool Congress announced that it would take up the Gorakhpur counting issue in the Rajya Sabha, along with other Opposition parties.
The trends being observed in the counting for the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls on Wednesday have dampened the spirits of the ruling BJP. On the other hand, SP was celebrating its second ' Holi' within a fortnight. At the time of writing, Samajwadi Party’s candidate Pravin Kumar Nishad was leading BJP’s Upendra Dutt Shukla by over 26,000 votes in the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha bypoll. In Phulpur, SP's Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel was leading over BJP's Kaushlendra Singh Patel by over 30,000 votes.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya had won the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats respectively, by over 3 lakh votes each in 2014.
At the SP state headquarters in Lucknow, the party cadres danced and sprayed gulal on each other. They also raised slogans of ' Bhatija-Bua zindabad' to criticise UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath's statement that Bhatija (Akhilesh) and Bua (Mayawati) would not be accepted by the people of the state.
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