Incumbent MP Yogi Adityanath, a Bhojpuri singer and a mafia-politician’s son will be trying their luck in the election to Gorakhpur parliamentary seat which has seen the Gorakhnath Mutt disciple win the last three polls.
Adityanath, 37, is contesting for the fourth time on a BJP ticket from this constituency. Disciple of the Gorakhnath Mutt in Gorakhpur, Adityanath draws his strength from the Mutt which enjoys wide respect in the region.
Fighting on the twin issues of “Hindutva and development”, the Yogi makes no bones about Ram temple being an important issue for him. At his rallies and public meetings, he asks the people to raise both their hands and shout, “Jai Shri Ram” and his polemical speeches whip up hysteria in many rallies.
“If I win then Hindutva wins and when Hindutva wins the country wins,” he says often in his public meetings. Locals feel though Yogi will finally romp home to victory, he is facing a challenge from BSP candidate Vinay Shankar Tiwari, son of mafia-turned-politician Hari Shankar Tiwari.
This is Vinay’s second Lok Sabha election after he lost the by-election in Ballia in December 2007. Former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar’s son Neeraj Shekhar had won the polls then as the Samajwadi Party candidate.
Vinay, a law graduate, says Gorakhpur has suffered as “development has been zero here”. Enumerating his plans for the constituency, Vinay told, “Japanese Encephalitis -- which leads to deaths of hundreds of children every year-- and the annual floods are the main issues. I want to ensure vaccination of all vulnerable kids and establish proper drainage system to face the floods.”
He also wants to provide more employment to the youth in his constituency. “A public sector fertilizer factory was shut down during the NDA regime and the employees were given voluntary retirement. I want to restart the factory,” he said.
Making things difficult for Vinay is Samajwadi Party candidate and Bhojpuri singer-actor Manoj Tiwari who -- also a Brahmin like him-- may cut into his votes.
Manoj is a native of Bihar but has spent some years in Gorakhpur while struggling to make a name for himself. He is banking on his roadshows and glamour to win votes. Manoj is aided by his brother-in-law Arun Pandey, a cricket player of some repute.
“I am off to Delhi as Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the rest of the team is coming back after IPL. I could not play as I was canvassing here,” Pandey said.
Manoj will also have actor Sanjay Dutt campaigning for him. Though this may attract big crowds, whether it will translate into votes remains to be seen.