UP Bypolls: Media Told to Get Out of Gorakhpur Counting Centre
The by-election to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s Lok Sabha constituency is witnessing a neck-and-neck contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP).
Counting trends as of noon indicate that the SP's Praveen Kumar Nishad is leading with 44,979 votes, while the BJP's Upendra Dutt Shukla trails with 43,456 votes.
The district magistrate has reportedly ordered reporters to keep out of the counting centre, provoking furore in the state assembly which is currently in session. The issue of the media being kept out of the counting centre was raised in the Vidhan Sabha by SP’s Ram Govind Chaudhary. The ruckus prompted the speaker to adjourn the assembly for 10 minutes until 12:20 pm.
EC Denies Reports of Media Being Barred, SP Protests
As per reports on ground, the results of the successive rounds of counting are being withheld from the media.
However, the Election Commission has rebuffed reports of the media not being allowed to enter the counting centre despite having valid EC passes. In a statement to ANI, the EC said, “Media is inside counting campus since morning. Media is being briefed personally by DM regarding each round’s progress.”
SP leader Naresh Uttam Patel has written to the State Chief Election Officer alleging that the district administration is working in favour of the BJP candidate. Patel also protested against mediapersons reportedly being removed from the counting centre in Gorakhpur.
Earlier, Gorakhpur District Magistrate Rajeev Rautela told ANI that the process by which the numbers are declared is time consuming. The Assistant Returning Officer collects the numbers from the five assembly constituencies which are then scrutinised by the Returning Officer and two observers who then manually and digitally sign it, he clarified.
(This is a developing story and will be updated.)