Even as Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath braces up to use helicopters from Saturday to intensify his campaign for his candidates in eastern UP,an internecine battle in the BJP threatens to mar the prospects of many party candidates,including that of state unit chief Surya Pratap Shahi who is contesting from Pathardeva seat in Deoria district.
With Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV) leader Rana Pratap entering the fray as an Independent,Shahi finds himself on a sticky ground. Founded by Yogi Adityanath,HYV has a strong base in rural areas and Rana Prataps entry has sent out a clear message that Shahi does not enjoy Yogis support. Similarly,Subhawati Paswan,BJP candidate from Basgaon in Gorakhpur district,is facing a challenge from another HYV leader Ram Lakshman,who is contesting as Independent. The Yogi was said to have favoured Ram Lakshman,his loyalist,for the ticket,but the state BJP leadership rejected it.
The Shahi camp has,on the other hand,put up Independent candidates against Yogis nominees who are contesting on party symbol: Shambhu Choudhary against BJP candidate Deeplal Bharati in Ramkola constituency in Kushinagar district and Chandrashekhar Pandey against party candidate Rakesh Singh Baghel in Mehdawal constituency in Sant Kabirnagar district.
On Wednesday,the BJP leadership chose state unit vice-president Shiv Pratap Shukla,a known Yogi-baiter,as the stand-in chief of the state BJP as long as Shahi is busy in his own election campaign.
The Gorakhpur MP,who had earlier let his displeasure known about Babu Singh Kushwaha’s entry in the BJP,is keeping his cards close to his chest. Although the party had ignored some of his wishes on some seats,it had to largely accommodate his candidates given his undisputed mass base in the region. I am not a neta,I am a sanyasi. I will campaign for whoever is honest and is working for the interest of Hindutva and the nation. Jo achha karega,woh punya ka bhagi hoga,jo boora karega,woh paap ka, Yogi Adityanath told The Indian Express here on Friday. He asserted that he has already conveyed to the party his reluctance to take any posts.
Head priest of Gorakhnath Temple,Yogi is said to be upset with a section of party leaders who have tried to sideline him in the party. Asked if he was happy with ticket allotments in eastern UP,he said,Party leaders had tried to talk to me about tickets,but I refused. They had done a survey (of potential candidates). I gave them my suggestions,but not any list. It was for them to decide and I made no interference.
The Gorakhpur MP asserted that he has no differences with the party and he would campaign for candidates who have a clean image and work for national interest. Sources close to him said there has been a deliberate attempt by a section of party leaders to sideline him.
Last November,when former party president Rajnath Singh came to Gorakhpur during his Sadbhawana Yatra,he did not invite Yogi Adityanath,said sources. Before that,Singh had ignored his invitation to join him on a dharna on the issue of encephalitis.