Yogi Adityanath’s entry into the Uttar Pradesh poll scene from Gorakhpur Urban has created a big buzz among the constituency’s electorate which now has a chance of sending a chief minister to the state assembly.
The BJP’s decision to field Adityanath from this assembly segment has also attracted Azad Samaj Party supremo and Bhim Army founder Chandrasekhar Azad alias ”Ravana” and Dr Kafeel Khan, whose name surfaced in the 2017 BRD Medical college tragedy, to contest from the seat.
While Azad has announced his candidature, Khan said he can contest the polls if a political party supports him.
This will be Adityanath’s maiden foray into assembly elections. In 2017, he became chief minister through the legislative council route.
The Gorakhpur Urban assembly segment, where polling will be held on March 3 in the sixth of the seven-phased assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, has around 4.5 lakh voters and Muslims constitute around 40,000 out of this.
But, despite Adityanath’s image of ”hard hindutva”, not every member of the minority community is opposed to him.
Tea vendor Samitullah of Zahidabad near the Gorakhnath temple, of which Adityanath is the chief priest (mahant), said, “We will vote for the person who can run the government properly. People want Yogi ji to win from here.” Cloth merchant Mohammad Saleem said Adityanath had done good work after becoming chief minister.
Mia Saheb Adnan Farooq Shah of the Gorakhpur Imambara Estate, said, ”I pray for Yogi ji’s victory. He is doing good work and his success will lead to further development in Gorakhpur.” Shah leads traditional procession on Muharram in Gorakhpur.
Noor Muhammad, a businessman, was, however, not in favour of the BJP leader, who has also represented the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat five times.
He said, “His (Adityanath) claims of development are empty.” “Just 500 meters away from the Gorakhnath temple where we live, the area has broken roads which says everything about so-called development,” he said.
So far, only Azad has announced his candidature from the hot seat, with the SP, the Congress and the BSP, the BJP’s rivals, still looking for the right candidate to take on heavyweight Adityanath.
Speculation is rife in political circles that after trying to lure sitting BJP MLA Radha Mohan Das Agarwal, who has been denied ticket by the party, the Samajwadi Party (SP) has almost settled the candidature of Subhawati Shukla, wife of late BJP leader Upendra Shukla.
Her son Amit Dutt Shukla told PTI-Bhasha that SP president Akilesh Yadav has told his mother to fight from the seat.
”Decision has almost been made on candidature of ‘mata ji’ (mother) on the seat,” he said.
Through the late BJP leader’s wife, the SP plans to wedge a divide in the local BJP unit besides driving Brahmins away from the saffron party, people aware of political developments here said.
The caste and population break-up among Hindu voters in the Gorakhpur Urban seat is Brahmins (60,000-70,000), Kayastha (55,000-60,000), Vaisya (around 50,000), Rajput (25,000-30,000), Schedule castes (around 50,000) and backward castes (around 75,000), among others.
Reports suggest that Brahmins are unhappy with Adityanath’s rule and hence, the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), SP and other parties are trying to wean them away to their sides.
Aggressively contesting the crucial polls in Uttar Pradesh, Yadav is planning to field a strong candidate against Adityanath from the seat.
The Gorakhpur district has nine assembly seats with Gorakhpur Urban being one of them.
Former chief minister and Congress leader Vir Bahadur Singh who was in office from November 1985 to June 1988, hailed from the district and fought from Paniyara, which is now part of the Maharajang district.
Prof Harsh Kumar Sinha of the Deendayal Upadhyay University told PTI-Bhasha, ”Whosoever the opposition fields, Adityanath will win hands down from here because citizens see him as their ‘political guardian’.” ”People lamented that after the demise of Vir Bahadur Singh the development of Gorakhpur was halted, but now because of Adityanath’s presence, the ‘CM ka constituency’ will see rapid development again,” he said.
North Humayupur resident Kaushal Shahi alias ”Bambhole” said ”After Adityanath gets elected from the region, rapid development will take place here.” The electoral history of the Gorakhpur Urban seat shows that in the initial years after Independence, Congress Ishtafa Hussain represented the seat two times while Niamatullah Ansari won it once.
However, in later years, nominees of the Bhartiya Jan Sangh, the past incarnation of the BJP, won the seat multiple times. Union minister Shiv Pratap Shukla represented the seat from 1989 to 1996.
Incumbent Radha Mohan Das won from Gorakhpur Urban for the first time in 2002 as a candidate of the Hindu Mahasabha. Later, he shifted to the BJP and won continuously in 2007, 2012 and 2017 before paving the way for Adityanath.