Bypolls in Yogi’s Gorakhpur, Araria in Bihar on 11 March

Crucial bypolls to the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats, vacated by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya, will be held on 11 March, the Election Commission announced on Friday, 9 February.

The bypoll to the Araria Lok Sabha seat in Bihar, which fell vacant following the demise of Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Mohammed Taslimuddin, will also be held on the same date, the poll panel said in a statement.

Adityanath and Maurya had resigned as Lok Sabha members in September last year after being elected to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council. While Adityanath is the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Maurya is one of the two the Deputy Chief Ministers. Dinesh Sharma is the other Deputy CM.

There has been speculation that Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, who had last year resigned from the Rajya Sabha, may contest the Phulpur bypoll. However, so far there has been no official word from the party.

The bypolls in Uttar Pradesh will be a test for Adityanath as the results will be seen as a reflection on his government’s popularity.

The Bihar bypoll has assumed extra significance as this would be the first election after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar jettisoned the Congress and the RJD and joined hands with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

Bihar bypolls 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.

RJD had won the seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls despite the "Modi wave".

The notification for the three by-elections will be issued on 13 February, beginning the process of filing nomination papers. The last date to file papers to contest the elections is 20 February. While scrutiny of papers will be held on 21 February, candidates can withdraw from the electoral battle till 23 February.

While votes will be cast on 11 March, counting will be held on 14 March, the EC said.

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