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

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"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. While RJD fielded Sarfaraz Alam, BJP gave ticket to Pradeep Kumar Singh, who was local MP from 2009 to 2014, but lost to Alam's father late Mohammed Taslimuddin of RJD in 2014.

Voting for bypolls to 3 Lok Sabha seats took place on Sunday, for the Gorakhpur and Phulpur constituencies in Uttar Pradesh and the Araria constituency of Bihar. Earlier this year the chief minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar stepped down from his post and broke up the alliance with Lalu Yadav and Congress and joined hands with BJP. Till noon, 31.25 per cent voter turnout has been recorded in Araria; it was 24.5 per cent in Bhabhua and 28.6 per cent in Jehanabad, news agency ANI reported.

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The bypoll was necessitated after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated their seats in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, respectively, on taking office. In Jehanabad Assembly seat, the RJD fielded Uday Yadav. Similarly, the death of RJD MLA from Jehanabad Mundrika Singh Yadav necessitated by-poll for the seat and his son Suday Yadav has been made candidate by the RJD. Mohan's main opponent is JD (U)'s Abhiram Sharma who had won the seat in the 2010 Assembly polls.

In Bhabhua, Shambhu Singh Patel of Congress is locked in a tough contest with BJP's Rinky Rani, the widow of BJP legislator Anand Bhushan Pandey who held the seat.

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded former mayor of Varanasi, Kaushlendra Singh Patel as its candidate from Phulpur while Upendra Shukla would contest from Gorakhpur. Ten candidates are in the fray from Gorakhpur, while 22 candidates are contesting from Phulpur. The results for the Araria by-elections will be declared on Wednesday, March 14. The bypoll 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.

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