Lok Sabha elections 2019: Yogi Adityanath, poll flight and Kalinga connection
“Look at that river,” UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath said as he leaned a bit towards the window of the eight-seater chartered plane that had to hurriedly replace the one which had been ferrying him on his increasing visits outside the state due to a snag.
“The area around the river was witness to the Kalinga war after which Ashoka vowed never to battle again. Back then, the river flowed with blood,” Adityanath explained as he headed back after a long day mostly spent hopping on to planes and helicopters on a campaign tour of Assam and Odisha.
Adityanath was referring to the Daya river as he spoke of Ashoka’s disenchantment, though there was no mistaking his ability to take up the fight.
Barely an hour back, Adityanath argued with the pilot of his helicopter to take him to Odisha’s Kandhamal and Brahmpur after being told that there was no time to visit the rallies and return within the 6pm DGCA deadline of choppers to touch base.
“In that case, fly me to the place. I will come back by road. There are people waiting for me in Odisha. The candidate is banking on me. I can’t let them down,” he said.
“Ok, sir but since there is a change in the flying schedule, we will have to seek fresh clearance,” the pilot offered. As more time got consumed, Adityanath looked upset. He finally, albeit reluctantly, settled on addressing rallies over the phone.
“I am sorry I am unable to come to you though I wanted. I promise I will be back at the first opportunity,” Adityanath said over the phone.
Adityanath, who began a nine-day Navratri fast from Saturday, kept taking power naps between long flights and had his simple ‘phalaahaar’ as he exuded confidence on the BJP’s ability to dent BJD’s grasp in Odisha.
“He has already held rallies in Gujarat and Uttarakhand. He was in Assam and Odisha today (Saturday) and will visit Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on Sunday. He is also scheduled to campaign in Maharashtra and there are demands for him from Kerala too,” explained Adityanath’s aide RBS Rawat.
Kerala is surely on his agenda ever since Congress president Rahul Gandhi decided to contest from Wayanad, providing the BJP’s star campaigner an opportunity to up the ante against the Congress chief, describing his move as an admission of ‘defeat.’
“We are winning Amethi,” he said with finality in between breaks even as union minister Smriti Irani, who is contesting from Amethi again, called him on phone to wish him on Navratra.
While he was airborne, the BJP announced its fresh list of candidates, which included four seats from UP.
“I know,” he said later when told about the candidates for the four seats announced on Saturday. He spoke of the candidates, reflecting his increased say in finalising party candidates in a state which holds the key to BJP’s return to power. “Tell Ravi Kishen to meet me,” he told his aides. Ravi Kishen, the Bhojpuri actor-turned-BJP leader is in the reckoning for a party ticket either from Gorakhpur or Jaunpur.
Is Ravi Kishen being considered for Gorakhpur? “Everything is possible,” he said, adding that the party would take a decision soon.
“Modiji’s appeal and his development agenda will blow everything away,” he said when asked about the caste challenge from the SP-BSP-RLD alliance in UP.
When told about the popular view that BJP touched such a high in the Modi wave in 2014 LS polls that surpassing it would be difficult now, he said, “We will retain our existing seats and expand on it.”
Is BJP’s Uttar Pradesh ally Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), out of reckoning now? “Talks are on,” he said. The SBSP has been kept waiting for Lok Sabha tickets even as the BJP has given two seats to its other state ally Apna Dal.