In UP's Gorakhpur, reporters have been kept out of the counting area by the District Magistrate.
Gorakhpur: Around three hours into counting of votes cast in by-polls in Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur, the home base of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the media wasbanned from reporting trends. Reports indicated that a top official ordered the media out of the counting centre at a time the gap started narrowing between the candidates of the ruling BJP and its main challenger, the Samajwadi Party.
Around noon, Samajwadi candidate Praveen Kumar Nishad was leading by over 1,500 votes over BJP's Upendra Dutt Shukla.
District Magistrate Rajeev Rautela reportedly walked into the counting centre and stopped personnel from giving updates to the media. He also banned reporters from entering the counting area, which is unprecedented.
Denying that his move was linked to the worrying trends for the ruling party, Mr Rautela said: "The counting of votes is underway. When the assistant Returning Officer sends 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. This process takes time."
CommentsBypolls were held in Gorakhpur after five-time parliamentarian Yogi Adityanath vacated the seat after becoming Chief Minister last year.
The Samajwadi Party is also leading in the bypolls in Phulpur, which was vacated by his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya.
In both seats, the Samajwadi Party and Mayawati's BSP – regional heavyweights and bitter rivals – pooled resources in a rare deal that includes the Samajwadi's support for the BSP in Rajya Sabha elections in UP later this month.Yogi Adityanath campaigned hard in both constituencies and described the by-elections as a dress rehearsal for the general election next year.