Even as Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath is getting ready to board a helicopter to intensify his campaign in eastern UP,an internecine battle in the BJP threatens to mar the prospects of many candidates,including that of state unit chief Surya Pratap Shahi who is contesting from Pathardeva 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,is facing a challenge from HYVs 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 Independents against Yogis nominees: Shambhu Choudhary against BJPs Deeplal Bharati in Ramkola and Chandrashekhar Pandey against Rakesh Singh Baghel in Mehdawal.
On Wednesday,the BJP leadership chose state unit vice-president Shiv Pratap Shukla,a known Yogi-baiter,as the stand-in chief of the as long as Shahi is busy in his own election campaign.
Yogi,who had made his displeasure known about Babu Singh Kushwahas 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 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 told The Indian Express 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 some BJP 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. I gave them my suggestions,but not any list. It was for them to decide and I made no interference.
Sources close to him said there has been a deliberate attempt by a section of party leaders to sideline him. Last November,when Rajnath Singh came to Gorakhpur during his Sadbhawana Yatra,he did not invite Yogi Adityanath,said sources.