In what is billed to be the test of strength for the ruling BJP as well as the Opposition groupings, crucial bypolls to the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats, vacated by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya, will be held on March 11.
The election commission on Friday also announced bypoll to the Araria Lok Sabha seat in Bihar, which fell vacant following the demise of RJD MP Mohammed Taslimuddin, on the same date.
There has been speculation that BSP chief Mayawati, who had last year resigned from the Rajya Sabha, may contest the Phulpur bypoll. But so far, there has been no official word from the party.
The bypolls in UP will be a test for Adityanath as the results will be seen as a reflection on his government’s popularity. So far there are no speculations as to who may contest the high-profile Gorakhpur constituency, believed to be Yogi’s stronghold.
The Bihar bypoll has assumed an extra significance as this will be first election after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar jettisoned the Congress and the RJD, and joined hands with the BJP.
It will also be seen as a prestige issue for RJD chief Lalu Prasad as questions have been raised on his political future after his sentencing in fodder scam cases. The RJD had won the seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls despite the “Modi wave”.
The notification for the three byelections will be issued on February 13, beginning the process of filing nomination papers. February 20 is the last date of filing papers to contest the elections. While scrutiny of papers will be held on February 21, candidates can withdraw from electoral battle till February 23.
While votes will be cast on March 11, counting will be held on March 14, the EC said.
(With inputs from PTI)