ON JANUARY 21, the BJP picked its Gorakhpur MP and leader from eastern UP, Yogi Adityanath, as one of its star campaigners for the first two phases of the UP elections next month. On Friday, the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV) released its first list of six candidates from Kushinagar and Maharajganj districts, which come under Adityanath’s sway. The line that connects the two events has left the BJP red-faced. The HYV was founded in 2002 by none other than Adityanath.
The HYV will contest from 64 seats in eastern UP, alleging that the BJP has “insulted” its founder, who is also head priest of the revered Gorakhnath temple.
“We will release lists of more candidates. HYV workers are upset because the BJP has insulted Yogi Adityanathji. The people of eastern UP wanted Adityanathji to be declared as the chief ministerial face, but the BJP ignored him. The party also did not include him in its election management committee,” said Sunil Singh, the outfit’s state president.
“Adityanathji had given a list of around 10 candidates, but the BJP gave tickets to only two of them. We cannot tolerate this any more and that’s why we have decided to field candidates (as independents) against BJP,” said Singh.
“We had assured voters in Gorakhpur during the Lok Sabha campaign in 2014 that they will elect an MP as well as an Union Minister by voting for Adityanathji. But that did not happen. The BJP also ignored him during its Parivartan Yatra last year. The photograph of our mass leader was not on posters and banners of the yatra. The BJP gave preference to Rajnath Singh, Keshav Prasad Maurya, Uma Bharti and Kalraj Mishra,” claimed Singh.
Asked if Adityanath’s consent was taken before the HYV decided to field candidates, Singh said, “The BJP has done some black magic on Adityanathji. We have units in all districts of UP and our workers have been asked to vote against BJP and campaign in favour of any non-BJP candidate who follows an ideology similar to that of HYV.”
When contacted, Adityanath declined to speak on why HYV was fielding candidates on its own — the Friday list included candidates for Khadda, Kushinagar and Padrauna seats in Kushinagar district and Paniyara, Pharenda and Siswa in Maharajganj.
The BJP, meanwhile, is appealing to voters to “ignore personal ambitions”. “The HYV candidates will not affect the winning prospects of BJP nominees. People have faith in the BJP and its leadership. The BJP appeals to all those who want UP to be free from SP and BSP to ignore personal ambitions and support Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said Chandra Mohan, state spokesperson, BJP.
Adityanath is a five-time Lok Sabha MP from Gorakhpur, and the only BJP candidate from UP, apart from Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh, to campaign for candidates from other NDA parties in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP had even provided him with a helicopter to campaign in districts with a mixed population of Hindus and Muslims. Adityanath had led the party’s campaign in byelections to 12 assembly seats, too, after the Lok Sabha polls.