Aides-turned-rebels pose a threat to Yogi Adityanath on Gorakhpur seat

Subhavati Shukla, wife of late Upendra Shukla, BJP’s candidate for 2018 Lok Sabha by-election from Gorakhpur, may be fielded from the Assembly seat by Samajwadi Party

Akhilesh Yadav (Left), Subhavati Shukla (Centre), Yogi Adityanath (Right)
Akhilesh Yadav (Left), Subhavati Shukla (Centre), Yogi Adityanath (Right)

Rajkumar Upadhyay

It is generally believed that Gorakhnath temple is the epicentre of defeat and victory in the Gorakhpur assembly seat, from where UP CM Yogi Adityanath himself is going to contest.

However, it won’t be easy for him, due to several factors. One among these is that Sunil Singh, who was once a prominent face of Yogi’s group of close aides, has become estranged, openly challenging Yogi. His organisation Hindu Yuva Vahini is also not as active as before.

Meanwhile, Subhavati Shukla, wife of late Upendra Shukla, who was BJP’s candidate for the 2018 Lok Sabha by-election from Gorakhpur, joined the Samajwadi Party after accusing the BJP of neglect, and is likely to be fielded by it against Yogi.

The announcement that Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar Azad will also contest the elections from Gorakhpur is also making headlines.

The objective of the opposition is to lay a siege on CM Yogi more than victory or defeat from Gorakhpur, thereby keeping him engaged in his stronghold.

Sameer Kumar, a resident of Raptinagar in Gorakhpur, however, feels that being the karma bhoomi of Yogi Adityanath, it would be easy for him to win from the constituency. “Since he is already well-known there, there will not be much pressure on him to campaign in the area,” he opined, adding that this will give him sufficient time to campaign at other constituencies.

“Another thing to note is that there are many people who may not vote for BJP for various reasons but will vote for Yogi because of personal equations,” he added.

Sameer opined that the candidature of Upendra Shukla's wife will not have much effect. “Yogiji knows and recognises people in every locality in this constituency. People in urban areas need pure water, electricity, roads and good governance. People know and understand everything. If BSP or Congress run a new face against Yogi, only then the anti-BJP votes can be consolidated,” he said.

Ram Bahal Tripathi, District Executive Officer of Gorakhpur Principal Council, says that Vinay Shankar Tiwari, Kushal Tiwari and Ganesh Shankar Pandey of Harishankar Tiwari camp have joined the SP.

“Their formula is that Upendra Shukla's wife should be made to contest against Yogi Adityanath, because at the local level, the Brahmin community is angry with Yogiji. This will harm him. However, it is not that all the Brahmins are angry. The sitting MLA Dr Radha Mohan Agarwal is still silent. He may contest as an independent or from any other party, but nobody knows anything about this yet,” he says.

Prahlad, a resident of Nausad in Gorakhpur, says that this time a common candidate of opposition parties will not be fielded from Gorakhpur. “Congress, BSP, SP and Aam Aadmi Party will field separate candidates. The sitting MLA had stated briefly that he is a BJP worker and the decision of the party is welcome. But after that he has not made any statement publicly. On the other hand, Akhilesh Yadav had also given him an open invitation to join his party. This has raised doubt among the people about him,” he says.

A resident of Mohaddipur, Vinod Srivastava, says that apart from Kayastha and Vaishya community, there are a large number of Brahmin voters in Gorakhpur constituency. “If seen from this point of view, the candidature of Subhavati Shukla, wife of Upendra Shukla, can have an impact. Vijay Kumar Srivastava from Aam Aadmi Party has also been preparing for elections for a long time. Dalit votes may be split between Bhim Army's Chandrashekhar Azad and BSP's candidate,” he said.

A resident of Transportnagar, Rajesh Kumar, says that the Hindu Yuva Vahini is no longer as strong as before. “After becoming Chief Minister, Yogi had instructed the organisation to engage in social work. There were notable numbers of youth in the organisation. But now the organisation is inactive. Once a major force, most of the workers of the organisation were from rural areas. They are not going to have much effect in urban areas,” he says.

Notably, Sunil Singh, who was the president of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, is constantly needling Yogi. He is actively tweeting against the government. He wrote, "Once again I am saying that the 2022 election will be remembered by Yogi Adityanath for the rest of his life. Will make it the toughest election of Yogi's life. This is my promise."

Sunil Singh was counted among the people close to CM Yogi and used to consider him as his guru.

Some feel that CM Yogi being fielded from Gorakhpur may affect the poll outcome in constituencies adjacent to the area. These include, apart from Gorakhpur city, Gorakhpur Rural, Sahjanwan, Pipraich, Campierganj, Bansgaon (Reserved), Khajni (Reserved), Chillupar and Chauri Chaura seats.

(Translated from Hindi by Abhir More. Views are personal)

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