Following the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha By poll (Punjab) and Vengara By Election (Kerala), it is over to the Gorakhpur and the Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls in Uttar Pradesh.The recent visits of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to Amethi and BJP president Amit Shah and the SP national convention in Agra are setting the stage for a high-octane contest.Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya had vacated the seats after becoming MLCs. The Election Commission (EC) is yet to announce the dates for the by-elections. The BJP, Congress, and the Samajwadi Party will make every effort to wrest the seats in order to send a strong message before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Gorakhpur has been a traditional stronghold of the BJP since 1991 while it won the Phulpur seat for the first time in 2014.A confident UP BJP spokesperson Manish Shukla said, "Undoubtedly, the BJP will not only emerge victorious in both the by-polls, it will also improve its victory margin.""The public welfare work which is being done by the UP government and that too in a short span of six months drops enough hints that the party will retain both the seats rather comfortably," added Shukla.Last week, BJP's top leaders had gathered in Amethi, the traditional Nehru-Gandhi family stronghold and Lok Sabha constituency of Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.
BJP President Amit Shah had questioned Rahul Gandhi over development work in Amethi while slamming him for mocking Gujarat's development. Joining Shah were Union Minister Smriti Irani and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in attacking Gandhi.
Earlier, during his Amethi visit, Rahul Gandhi had accused the BJP governments at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh of re-inaugurating the projects launched by the previous UPA in his Lok Sabha constituency Amethi. "I am happy to note that our BJP friends are out to re-inaugurate these projects started by us...but I am happy that we initiated these works for the people of Amethi," Gandhi had said.He referred to projects like a hospital worth Rs 90 crore, FM radio, Sainik School, Rajiv Gandhi Aviation University at Fursatganj, and Institute of Hotel Management. He also named Central School at Jais, Amethi-Uchahar new rail line, doubling of Rae Bareli-Amethi rail line, multi-functional complex at the railway station, four-laning of Lucknow-Sultanpur NH 56, bypass of NH and six national highways through Amethi.During the Samajwadi Party’s Agra convention held last week, party chief Akhilesh Yadav had said that the two key by-elections will give his party a chance to gauge which way the wind is blowing after it was routed in the Assembly polls.Yadav said if results of the elections were in "our favour, it will give a message not only for the 2019 (Lok Sabha polls), but also for the 2022 (assembly polls)".Exhorting party workers to strengthen the organisation, he had said the SP should emerge as a big force in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.SP spokesperson Hilal Ahmad said, "We will definitely contest the Lok Sabha bypolls. Modalities in this regard are being worked out." SP MLC and party spokesperson Sunil Singh Sajan said, "Our preparations down to the booth level are almost complete and we are just waiting for the EC to announce the poll schedule." In such a scenario, a split in opposition votes might help the BJP.There was no word from the BSP though.In 2014, Maurya had bagged 5,03,564 votes (52.43 per cent of the votes polled) to give BJP its maiden victory in the parliamentary constituency.Gorakhpur saw Adityanath emerging victorious by securing 5,39,127 votes (51.80 per cent of the votes polled) in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.