The police raid on the house of former minister Hari Shankar Tiwari and murder accused MLA Amanmani Tripathi sharing the dais with chief minister Yogi Adityanath in Gorakhpur are likely to make an impact on the politics of east UP.
Both the events have revived the Thakur-Brahmin rivalry in Gorakhpur region when the gang led by Hari Shankar Tiwari, considered to be the undisputed leader of the Brahmins, was engaged in a battle for supremacy with gangster-turned-politician Virendra Pratap Shahi who enjoyed the support of Thakurs.
The formation of the BJP government in the state and elevation of Gorakhnath mutt’s chief priest Yogi Adityanath to the post of chief minister has changed the political equations in east UP.
The Tiwari family that held sway in Gorakhpur region for about three decades is feeling the heat of political transformation and Amanmani, who is facing charges of murdering his wife, has suddenly gained prominence.
It is well known that Yogi Adityanath loathes criminalisation of politics promoted by Tiwari. He has not only condemned the entry of criminals in politics but has also called upon the people to end mafia raj in Gorakhpur region by ensuring their defeat.
“Rather than opening the door for Amanmani, our strategy is to send across the message to the Brahmin community as well as Tiwari that he (Amanmani) has the blessings of the party. The aim is to diminish the sway of Tiwari over the Brahmin community,” a BJP leader told HT.
“Amanmani’s father Amarmani Tripathi was once a close aide of Tiwari. He parted ways with Tiwari to form a separate group and embarrassed him by winning over his supporters. While Amarmani is in jail, the task to weaken Tiwari has been assigned to his son,” he said.
Amanmani proved his mettle by winning Nautanwa assembly seat in Maharajganj district as an independent candidate. He contested the election from behind bars.
BJP could not make a clean sweep in Gorakhpur, the stronghold of Yogi, and won eight out of nine seats in the district. Vinay Shankar Tiwari, younger son of Hari Shankar, won Chillupar seat on a BSP ticket.
After taking over the reins of the state, Yogi Adityanath appointed Tiwari’s former aide Brijesh Pathak a minister in his cabinet.
Recently, the police raided Hari Shankar’s residence in Gorakhpur and nabbed his aides on charges of loot.
“The police raided my residence in Gorakhpur out of political vendetta. The BSP condemned the raid and organised a dharna at the district magistrate’s office to register protest,” said Vinay Shankar.
“The government sent a clear message that it will tighten noose around Tiwari. The state government’s decision to introduce e-tendering will further weaken Tiwari whose companies flourish on government contracts,” the BJP leader said.
More than two decades back, when Yogi Adityanath was trying to establish himself in politics, Tiwari dominated the scene hopping from one party to the other. He served as minister in the Kalyan Singh and the Mulayam Singh Yadav governments.
After winning the Lok Sabha election from Gorakhpur in 1998, Yogi tried to restrict the influence of Tiwari in the region by launching a campaign against “gun culture”.
Tiwari hit back by rallying behind the opponents of Yogi Adityanath.
Caste factor also played a role in the tussle. Gorakhnath Temple Trust is the seat of Nath sect but the mahant (chief priest) of the mutt has been from the Thakur community.
Virendra Pratap Shahi used to challenge the might of Tiwari but after his murder in 1997, the Thakur community started supporting Yogi Adityanath, whom the then head of the temple trust mahant Avaidyanath had declared his successor.
People started saying that the ‘mutt’ would counter the might of ‘hata’ (Tiwari’s house as referred by local people).
By taking up the cause of Hindutva, Yogi won the support of upper caste, backwards and dalits and called upon the people to launch a movement against the mafia active in the region.
Addressing a public meeting, Yogi said, “When I used to tell the ministers and MPs in Delhi that I am from Gorakhpur, they spoke about the incidents of crime in the region. It was an embarrassment for me as well as for the people of the region whom I represent. I have decided to take action against gangsters and criminals.”
Talking to HT, Amanmani’s uncle Ajit Mani Tripathi said, “My nephew attended the programmes organised by the BJP to seek the CM’s blessings. Amanmani is an MLA and my family has an old bond with Yogi Adityanath. We revere Guru Gorakhnath and have been visiting the temple to seek the blessings of Adityanath.”