Gorakhpur Lok Sabha bypoll results: Delay in updates triggers political row
Eyewitnesses alleged that Gorakhpur’s district magistrate Rajeev Rautela, who is also the electoral officer, stopped sharing the updates after the first round of counting in the bypoll even though six rounds were over.india Updated: Mar 14, 2018 17:21 IST
Officials in Gorakhpur, the bastion of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, were on Wednesday accused of delaying the announcement of updates during the counting of votes for the Lok Sabha by-election and barring the media with the issue echoing in the state assembly following a ruckus by the opposition.
Eyewitnesses alleged that Gorakhpur’s district magistrate Rajeev Rautela, who is also the electoral officer, stopped sharing the updates after the first round of counting even though six rounds were over. (LIVE UPDATES)
Rautela, however, said the process of counting takes time as several officials are involved in it.
“The counting of votes is underway. When ARO (assistant returning officer) sends the counting figures of any round from the five assembly constituencies, it is scrutinised by the returning officer and two observers scrutinise the counting figures manually and digitally and then sign it,” Rautela said.
“Only then is the counting sheet of the entire parliamentary constituency is finalised and we announce it,” he added.
Rautela started announcing the updates of every round of counting after a while.
An official, privy to the development, claimed Rautela also had an argument with observer Madhvi Khorwe Chawre allegedly over some discrepancy in the counting of the votes.
Reporters were also denied entry to the area where counting of votes was underway and entered into an argument with officials over the delay in the announcement of updates.
The Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly was adjourned for some time over the issue of the media being kept out of the counting centre in Gorakhpur. It was raised by Samajwadi Party’s Ram Govind Chaudhary.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) spokesperson Vijay Bahadur Pathak, however, rubbished the allegations against Gorakhpur district officials and said the opposition parties were raising issues which were irrelevant.
The Samajwadi Party’s Praveen Kumar Nishad was leading by 25,870 votes with 3,34,463 votes in Gorakhpur after the 22nd round of counting and BJP’s Upendra Dutt Shukla second with 3,08,593 votes.
In Phulpur, Samajwadi Party’s Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel was leading by 38,498 votes and BJP’s Kaushlendra Singh Patel second with 2,33,254 votes after the 25th round of counting.
SP district president Prahlad Yadav said it was the victory of party president Akhilesh Yadav and a defeat of communal forces.
The bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur have become a prestige issue for the BJP, which won both the seats with a huge margin in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
With the mahants of Gorakhnath Mutt dominating politics in the region since the 1980s, Adityanath won the Gorakhpur seat five times in a row from 1998 to 2014. The seat was earlier represented by his guru, Mahant Avaidyanath, who won in 1989, 1991 and 1996.
The Janata Dal, SP and the BSP held sway over Phulpur in the late 1980s and 1990s due to the large concentration of backward, Dalit and Muslim voters there. The BJP, however, won the seat for the first time in 2014 with the support of the Maurya and Kurmi communities.
The results are being keenly watched for pointers to a possible bigger opposition alliance before the next Lok Sabha elections in 2019.