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Yogi Adityanath to contest UP election from Gorakhpur

Last updated on: January 15, 2022 20:45 IST

Releasing the first list of 107 candidates for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday fielded Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur Urban seat and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya from Sirathu in Prayagraj as it expressed confidence of retaining power with a big majority.

IMAGE: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addresses a press conference after inspecting a COVID-19 care ward at BRD Medical Collage in Gorakhpur. Photograph: PTI Photo

Except for Adityanath and Maurya, all the names are for 105 of the 113 seats which will go to the polls in the first two phases on February 10 and 14, with 44 of them hailing from Other Backward Classes and 19 Scheduled Castes, accounting for 60 per cent of the total.

Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters the list has 63 sitting MLAs, including ministers such as Suresh Khanna, Suresh Rana and Shrikant Sharma, while 20 have made way for others.

Former Uttarakhand governor and now BJP vice-president Baby Rani Maurya, a Dalit, has been fielded from Agra (rural). Pankaj Singh, the son of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, will again contest from Noida seat.

While there was speculation that Adityanath may be fielded from Ayodhya, Pradhan said the party decided to put him in the fray from Gorakhpur, his traditional political turf which he has represented in Lok Sabha for five consecutive terms.

Asked about the issue, Pradhan said the chief minister was willing to contest from any of the 403 seats in the state.

This is the first time Adityanath will contest assembly polls.

 

Yogi Adityanath thanked the BJP leadership for choosing him as the candidate from the Gorakhpur seat in the assembly election and exuded confidence that the party would return to power in the state with an "overwhelming majority".

"I express thanks to the prime minister, national president and BJP Parliamentary Board who decided to field me from Gorakhpur Urban seat in the current assembly elections," Adityanath told reporters in his first reaction after the declaration of his name.

"With the help of party workers and present and past representatives, the BJP will win not only in Gorakhpur but in the entire state and form its government again with an overwhelming majority," he added.

With the Jat-concentrated region going to the polls in the first two phases, the agrarian community, which was at the forefront of the agitation in western Uttar Pradesh against three contentious farm laws, has got 16 seats, sources said.

Of the 43 seats from where general castes members have been fielded by the BJP, sources noted that 18 are Thakurs, 10 Brahmins and eight Vaishya.

Among the 19 SC candidates in the BJP's first list, 13 are Jatavs, who make up for more than half of the total Dalit population.

The move is seen as a major push by the party to win the support of a section of the community which has been a traditional base of the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party.

Some of the seats where polling will be held in the first two phases and for which the BJP did not name its candidates on Saturday will go the allies.

Highlighting the BJP's outreach to marginalized communities, Pradhan said the party has fielded a Dalit candidate from a general category seat and will name more of them from unreserved seats in its coming lists for the Uttar Pradesh polls.

The BJP had contested the 2017 assembly polls on the plank of fighting corruption and restoring law and order in the state, and the Yogi Adityanath government has done so, Pradhan, who was joined by BJP general secretary Arun Singh, said.

The state is now riot-free, he claimed, adding a lot of development works, including the establishment of colleges and highways, have taken place under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Uttar Pradesh now ranks high in the list of the beneficiaries of the Modi government's housing scheme, free cooking gas cylinder programme and Ayushman Bharat, he said.

BJP president J P Nadda said every BJP worker has worked round the clock for people and the party is committed to the progress of every section of society in the state.

"I am confident that every BJP candidate will emerge victorious with a big majority with people's blessings and support," he said.

Gorakhpur Urban constituency has been a citadel of the right wing forces since 1967.

A history of the constituency shows that Congress represented the seat in the Uttar Pradesh assembly continuously for three times starting from 1952.

In 1967 the seat was won by the nominee of Bhartiya Jan Sangh, the earlier incarnation of the BJP and in successive years till 1977 it was with the Jan Sangh.

After the formation of the BJP, the constituency went into its kitty and continues to remain with them.

Radha Mohan Das Agarwal, who represented Gorakhpur Urban seat first as the Hindu Maha Sabha nominee in 2002 and as a BJP candidate in 2007, 2012 and 2017 has paved way for Adityanath this time.

On the party's prospects in the elections, Adityanath said, it is before everybody as to how the BJP has worked effectively on the issues of nationalism, development and good governance.

The BJP will once again form its government in the state with its core mantra of "sabka saath, sabka vikas", he said.

Gorakhpur Urban seat will go to vote in the sixth phase on March 3.

The constituency includes Gorakhnath temple which Adiyanath continues to head.

A look at the constituency reveals that its a Hindu-dominated seat and Muslims form 17 per cent of its population. But, in the parliamentary elections that Adityanath won in the past, even Muslims in good numbers voted for him

While the incumbent MLA was not available for comment, state BJP Vice President Satyendra Sinha expressed happiness over the party's decision to field Adityanath from the seat.

However, Samajwadi Party leader Zafar Amin claimed it was a tough decision for the BJP to make as the saffron party's sitting MLA was a "household name" and any other candidate would not have the same advantage.

Besides, the SP would field a strong candidate to give a tough fight to the chief minister, he said.

Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party leader Gautam Prasad alleged that Adityanath breaking bread with a Dalit family in Gorakhpur on Friday would not help him garner support of the community.

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