BJP to pull out all stops to retain Gorakhpur, Phulpur seats
After the election of chief minister Yogi Adityanath and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya to the legislative council, the focus has shifted to the by-poll for the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats.lucknow Updated: Sep 12, 2017 15:26 IST
After the election of chief minister Yogi Adityanath and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya to the legislative council, the focus has shifted to the by-poll for the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats. Adityanath is the Gorakhpur MP and Maurya represents Phulpur.
The Election Commission is likely to announce the schedule for the by-polls after both the leaders vacate the seats.
The prestige of the BJP that won both the seats by a big margin in the 2014 Lok Sabha election will be at stake in the by-polls.
The BJP has already moved into poll mode, mobilising its resources to retain the seats.
If the BJP wins, it will be able to send the message that it enjoys the support of the masses. But a defeat will put pressure on the Yogi government and galvanise the opposition that is lying low after the humiliating defeat in the assembly election in February-March.
The Samajwadi Party (SP), the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), the Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) are keen on having united opposition candidates for both the seats, but Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati’s decision to maintain a distance from the anti-BJP rally organised by RJD chief Lalu Prasad at Patna on August 27 has a thrown spanner into the opposition unity.
To get the BSP to join the front, the anti- NDA parties even offered to let Mayawati contest as the opposition candidate in Phulpur, where her mentor Kanshi Ram contested unsuccessfully in 1996.
After quitting the Ambekar Nagar Lok Sabha seat in 2006, Mayawati had announced that she will not contest Lok Sabha and assembly elections. It remains to be seen if she accedes to the opposition’s demand or sticks to her earlier stand.
In the Gorakhpur region, the opposition is banking on the support of the backward Nishad, Dalit and Muslim communities to upset the BJP.
Though the BJP is yet to finalise its candidates for the two seats, Adityanath and Maurya are paying regular visits to their respective constituencies to thwart opposition efforts to make inroads into their fort.
The Mahants of Gorakhnath Mutt have dominated politics in the Gorakhpur region since the late 1980s. Adityanath won the Gorakhpur seat five times in a row in 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014. Earlier, the seat was represented by his guru Mahant Avaidyanath for three terms: 1989, 1991 and 1996.
Avaidyanath also won a by-poll held in 1970 after the death of his guru Mahant Digvijay Nath, who won the seat in the 1967 Lok Sabha election.
Though Adityanath made Gorakhpur an impregnable fort, he is striving hard to ensure that the BJP retains the seat.
The BJP has attempted to consolidate its hold on Brahmin voters by inducting Shiv Pratap Shukla, a local leader, in the union council of ministers.
Though the continuing deaths of children at the BRD Medical College put the BJP on the back foot, the central government announced establishment of a research centre and expedited the establishment of AIIMS. The state government has already initiated action against the officers and doctors blamed for the deaths.
The prestige of Keshav Prasad Maurya will be at stake in Phulpur, a former Congress bastion. Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had represented the seat in 1951, 1957, 1962.
In the late 1980s and 1990s, the Janata Dal, the SP and the BSP held sway in the area that has a large concentration of backward, Dalit and Muslim voters. The BJP won the seat for the first time in 2014 with the support of the Maurya and Kurmi communities.
The BJP has an edge this time too because of the support of the Apna Dal (Sonelal) led by union minister Anupriya Patel that has considerable influence over Kurmi voters in the area and the Brahmin voters switching allegiance to the party. The support of influential Karwariya brothers Kapilmuni, Udyabhan and Surjabhan, who are lodged in jail, has strengthened the BJP. Earlier, they supported the BSP and the SP.
Uday Bhan Karwariya’s wife Neelam Karwariya won the Meja assembly seat for the BJP.
Political observer Arun Kumar Prasad said, “Keshav Prasad Maurya polled over five lakh votes in the 2014 Lok sabha election, which is more than the combined votes secured by the opposition candidates — the SP, BSP and Congress. In the assembly election, the BJP won nine out of the 12 assembly seats in Allahabad district. If the opposition is able to snatch even one of the seats, it will have a big impact on the 2019 Lok Sabha election,” he said.