Angry BJP workers in Uttar Pradesh burn effigies, gherao offices

Unhappy at tickets for ‘turncoats’, party workers are adding to BJP’s pre-poll headaches, setting fire to leaders effigies and gheraoing party offices in Gorakhpur, Deoria, Ghazipur, Varanasi, Lucknow

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Biswajeet Banerjee

Several workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh are angry with their leadership, alleging that the party has given preference in ticket distribution for the upcoming Assembly polls to ‘turncoats’ who recently crossed over from other parties, neglecting dedicated workers who have given their sweat and blood to the party. Over the past 48 hours, they have been staging protests, burning effigies of leaders and holding road blocks across the state, particularly in the east.


The anger is so deep that on Thursday, January 26, angry workers burnt the effigy of BJP MP Yogi Adityanath in Gorakhpur, something previously unheard of. The Yogi holds enormous sway in Gorakhpur. He is the Mahant of the Gorakhnath temple and has been representing Gorakhpur in the Lok Sabha since 1998. Adityanath’s wish is considered command in the area, and his diktat runs deep in eastern UP, through his frontal organisation Hindu Yuva Vahini. Despite Adityanath’s massive influence in the region, hundreds of party workers gathered at Golghar in central Gorakhpur, and raised slogans against Yogi Adityanath and the BJP leadership for giving tickets to turncoats.


The protests are not limited to Gorakhpur. In Deoria, BJP workers burnt the effigy of Union Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Kalraj Mishra, alleging party workers were ignored in ticket distribution. Mishra, who is the Brahmin face of the party, is the MP from Deoria. Party workers also set on fire an effigy of another Union Minister and local MP Manoj Sinha, in Ghazipur.


BJP workers also gheraoed the Mini PMO in Varanasi for rejecting seven-time MLA from Varanasi Shyamdev Roy Chaudhari, also called Dada. Even Raichaudhry questioned why he was denied a ticket. “If the leadership feels I am 75 and cannot be given ticket, then why was a sitting legislator who is 77 years old given a ticket? At least the party should have taken me into confidence before making this decision,” he said, referring to Satya Prakash Agarwal, the sitting MLA who has once again been given the ticket from Meerut Cantt.

Photo by Nand Kumar/PTI
Photo by Nand Kumar/PTI
BJP UP state president KP Maurya tries to pacify party workers who were agitating over the party’s Rae Bareli candidate for Assembly polls, outside his office in Lucknow on January 25

BJP WORKERS GHERAO PARTY HQ, state chief IN LUCKNOW

In Lucknow, hundreds of BJP workers laid seige to the party headquarters, protesting tickets being given to turncoats. They raised slogans like: “Karyakarta ka samaan vaapis karo” and “Karyakarta ka aapmaan nahi sahenge, nahi sahenge”. The slogans became vociferous when the angry workers learnt state unit chief Keshav Prasad Maurya was holding a meeting with party leaders. “We will talk to the leaders and their supporters and pacify them. We are not annoyed with them and their outburst is natural,” Maurya said in an attempt to pacify the workers.


Party workers were angry over outsiders being given prominence in the selection of candidates from Lucknow. Party-hoppers like Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Neeraj Bora, RK Chaudhary and Brijesh Pathak have been fielded from different segments of Lucknow district. Former MLA from Lucknow Cantt Suresh Tiwari, who lost to Rita Bahuguna Joshi by 2,000 votes, was a serious contender for the ticket. He was assured that he would be accommodated from some other seat if Joshi was allowed to contest from Lucknow Cantt. “The BJP leadership has not honoured its promise. What will happen if senior party leaders contest as rebel candidates,” shouted a piqued party worker. There are reports that Suresh Tiwari has taken a nomination paper, but he denied asking for papers.


“Workers are our real strength. The party has given tickets to those who can win elections for us. Some leaders might have come from other parties but once they have joined the BJP, they are part of us,” said Maurya. “We respect the workers’ anger and am sure that we will be able to pacify them,” he said.


Maurya, however, could not say why the party had fielded Rajesh Tripathi from Chillupar in Gorakhpur, who was charged by the Lokayukta of corruption. “I am not aware of it. But if he has done anything wrong, he would not be spared,” he said. Tripathi was a minister in the previous Mayawati government, and was charged with grabbing the land of a cremation ground. BJP, at that time, had staged protests and demanded action against him.


“All the criminals become sadhus when they join BJP. This is probably the case with Rajesh Tripathi too,” Congress spokesman Amarnath Agarwal said.

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