UP Assembly Polls: Fielding Yogi From Gorakhpur Will Also Help Party Maintain Hold On Other Seats In Region, BJP Hopes
Gorakhpur (UP), Jan 30 (PTI) The BJP seems to have strategically fielded Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur Urban in the assembly elections to maintain its sway over 62 seats in the region following desertion by some ministers hailing from the area.
Party insiders say Adityanath had campaigned vigorously in the 2017 polls in the region which had helped the saffron party win 44 of the 62 seats in Gorakhpur and nine other neighbouring districts.
The party has also got a prized catch in influential Congress leader R P N Singh to check the erosion in its support base among OBCs in the wake of recent exit of backward caste leaders like Swami Prasad Maurya and Dara Singh Chauhan as well as Om Prakash Rajbhar, who had quit earlier.
Maurya and Chauhan have joined the Samajwadi Party along with some OBC legislators. Rajbhar had contested the last polls in alliance with the BJP and was made a minister, but bid adieu to the saffron camp ahead of the 2019 general election.
Adityanath, who is popularly known in the region as 'Maharaj ji' because of him heading the famous Gorakhnath temple, has served as the Lok Sabha member for five times from Gorakhpur since 1998.
The Hindu Yuva Vahini -- founded by him in 2002 -- also has a considerable presence in the area.
Reports suggest that Adityanath's footprint is visible in the selection of BJP candidates in the Gorakhpur region in particular.
Adityanath is a member of the state election committee which sorts out candidates and party sources say that he wields considerable influence in the process.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has divided its organizational structure into six parts in Uttar Pradesh - West Zone, Braj Region, Kanpur-Bundelkhand, Awadh, Kashi and Gorakhpur.
Gorakhpur region consists of 10 districts namely Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Deoria, Kushinagar, Basti, Sant Kabirnagar, Siddharthnagar, Azamgarh, Ballia and Mau.
Voting will be held on these seats in the sixth and seventh phases scheduled on March 3 and March 7.
BJP Gorakhpur region vice-president Satyendra Sinha told PTI, 'Yogi ji was the party's star campaigner in 2017 while being an MP and because of him, BJP got a lot of benefit in the Gorakhpur region and this time he is the chief minister.”
'And since he is a candidate from Gorakhpur (urban) assembly constituency, BJP will definitely get an advantage under his leadership,' he added.
Party's regional coordinator of the Panchayat Cell, Ajay Tiwari said, 'The BJP will not suffer any loss due to Swami Prasad joining the SP. The party will get the benefit of the development done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi in the area.'
In the 2017 assembly elections, the BJP had won 44 of the 62 assembly seats in the Gorakhpur region, while the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party had secured seven seats each, and Congress and an independent had emerged victorious on one seat each.
In addition, the then BJP partner Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party and Apna Dal (Sonelal) had also won a seat each in the region.
However, the SBSP is an ally of the SP this time around.
Backward castes constitute 52 per cent of the votes while the share of scheduled castes voters is 20 per cent. Upper castes like brahmins, kshatriyas and kayasthas also have significant presence in the region.
Muslim voters also have a considerable presence in about 15 assembly constituencies, including Mau, Azamgarh and Padrauna.
Also, there are many key rival party leaders from different assembly constituencies in this region.
Maurya (Padrauna-Kushinagar), Chauhan (Madhuban-Mau), Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ram Govind Chaudhary (Bansdih-Ballia), State Congress President Ajay Kumar Lallu (Tamkuhiraj-Kushinagar), BSP's party leader Umashankar Singh (Rasra-Ballia) and Mafia turned politician Mukhtar Ansari from Mau are in this region.
Even Azamgarh, the parliamentary constituency of SP president and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, comes under this region. However, Yadav has decided to fight from Karhal seat in Mainpuri district.
As Gorakhpur has a good number of voters from the backward Maurya, Kushwaha and Nonia-Chauhan communities, the SP has challenged the BJP through Swami Prasad Maurya and Dara Chauhan.
SP state secretary Ziaul Islam told PTI that the BJP would “lose badly” in the region as it made “false promises” and “neglected” the interests of farmers, youth, Dalits, backwards and minorities.
Islam argued that SP’s development-oriented image and joining of leaders like Maurya and Chauhan would result in the party getting a thumping majority.
With the BJP roping in R P N Singh of the Padrauna (Kushinagar) royal family, who belongs to the backward Kurmi-Sainthwar fraternity, it is believed that he could help the saffron party retain its support among the OBCs.
Singh was a minister in the Congress government at centre and has also been an MP from Kushinagar Lok Sabha constituency and an MLA from Padrauna. He is also a veteran leader of Purvanchal region.
However, Uttar Pradesh Congress vice-president, Vishwavijay Singh, who is a resident of Gorakhpur, rejected the possibility of Adityanath and Singh influencing the polls.
'Yogi ignored youth and the issue of unemployment for five years. Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi are fighting to safeguard the constitutional values of the country,' he said.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)
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