Counting of votes in the bye-elections for five Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh began at 8 am on Wednesday. Bye-elections were held in Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Araria Lok Sabha seats, and Jehanabad and Bhabua Assembly seats on Sunday.

In Gorakhpur, the Samajwadi Party was ahead of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which was earlier held by Chief Minister Adityanath. Samajwadi Party’s Praveen Kumar Nishad was leading by around 3,000 votes after four rounds of counting at 12.20 pm.

However, the Samajwadi Party has claimed that members of the media were not allowed into the counting centres around 11 am as the BJP was trailing. The SP brought up the matter in the Lucknow Assembly, which was adjourned briefly after commotion, ANI reported.

The media is being briefed personally by Gorakhpur District Magistrate Rajiv Rautela regarding the progress of each round, ANI reported. Rautela said the media cannot be allowed inside the counting centres as per Election Commission instructions.

In Phulpur, Samajwadi Party’s Nagendra Singh Patel was leading by 12,231 votes after eight rounds of counting, according to ANI. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Kaushlendra Singh Patel was second.

The BJP was leading in Araria by 1,749 votes after 10 rounds of counting. In Bhabua, the BJP was ahead by 2,528 votes at 11.30 am. The Rashtriya Janata Dal was ahead in Jehanabad by nearly 8,900 votes.

In Araria, the voter turnout was 57%, while Jehanabad and Bhabua saw 50% and 54% voting. In Gorakhpur seat in Uttar Pradesh, there was a voter turnout of 43% and in Phulpur, 37.4% of the electorate turned up to vote.

Tight security arrangements are in place ahead of the counting of votes in these constituencies.

Follow the live updates from the counting here.

Uttar Pradesh

Bye-elections in Uttar Pradesh were held for two Lok Sabha seats – Gorakhpur and Phulpur – vacated by Chief Minister Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya.

The bye-polls are significant as it will test the new arrangement between Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. The two leaders struck a deal earlier this month – the BSP will support the Samajwadi Party’s Lok Sabha candidates for the bye-polls, and in return, the Samajwadi Party will support the BSP’s candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections on March 23.

If the SP-BSP tie-up wins, the two parties may decide to ally for the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections to counter the BJP. The Congress contested on its own.

Bihar

Bihar’s Araria Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after the death of Rashtriya Janata Dal strongman Mohammed Taslimuddin. In the Jehanabad Assembly seat, bye-polls were necessitated by the death of RJD lawmaker Mundrika Singh Yadav, and the Bhabua Assembly seat fell vacant after the death of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Anand Bhushan Pandey.

The polls in Bihar, meanwhile, are the first to take place after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ended the alliance between his Janata Dal (United) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal in 2017 and tied up with the BJP. It is also seen as a direct battle between Kumar and RJD’s Tesjashwi Yadav, who has been leading the party in the absence of his father Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is in jail for the fodder scam case.