Lucknow: Political equations in Uttar Pradesh changed overnight after Bahujan Samaj Party extended support to the Samajwadi Party candidates in Gorakhpur-Phulpur seats, where polling is slated to be held on March 11.
Both the seats now seem set to witness a triangular contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party, SP and Indian National Congress. A question is being raised on Congress party for trying to disturb the coming together of the opposition against the BJP. However, the Opposition unity between the BSP and SP is expected to continue after the LS bypolls. There is also a possibility of Congress party joining hands with other parties in the coming Rajya Sabha biennial polls for 10 seats, nominations for which will commence from Monday. Though, the BJP has an upper hand in the Gorakhpur LS seat left by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the Phulpur seat vacated by deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya would witness a keen contest. Candidature of Independent Atiq Ahmed from the seat could dent into the vote bank of the opposition camp leading to some benefit to the BJP.
Gorakhpur Parliamentary seat is considered to be a stronghold of Gorakhpeeth as late Mahant Avaidyanath was the MP from 1989 to 1998. After him, Yogi Adityanath won the seat for five consecutive terms.
Addressing a public gathering in Gorakhpur, the Chief Minister had said that Gorakhpur byelection can be termed as a 'rehearsal' of 2019 general election. BJP candidate Upendra Shukla is a well-known face among Brahmin voters and party's regional president. It is said that his selection is an attempt to woo Brahmin voters. Shukla has been associated with the BJP for quite some time and even tried to contest the assembly elections, but could not get a ticket at that time. In Gorakhpur, the Samajwadi Party has fielded Praveen Kumar Nishad, the son of Nishad Party chief Sanjay Nishad, as its candidate. Nishad will take on the BJP's Upendra Shukla and Congress leader Surhita Chatterjee Karim.
In Phulpur, a backward dominated parliamentary constituency, the Samajwadi Party has fielded Nagendra Singh Patel, an OBC leader. Patel will contest against BJP candidate and fellow OBC leader Kaushlendra Singh Patel, who has also been Varanasi mayor. The Congress has fielded Manish Mishra for this seat. But all eyes are on Independent Atiq Ahmed , who represented the seat twice on SP ticket. Voting for both bypolls will be held on March 11, while counting of votes will be held on March 14. UNI